OREANDA-NEWS. February 17, 2012. Usiminas Biodiversity Center has been expanded and modernized. With a focus on the Steel Valley’s ecosystem conservation and development, the Center now relies on new spaces dedicated to the local wildlife, which further strengthens Usiminas’ concern and care about environmental education, conscious leisure and scientific researches.

A benchmark in rescue and recovery of animals captured by Ibama, the Center has built two new spaces for hosting 26 capybaras and 32 peccaries, adding to the population of another 600 animals.

According to Usiminas Biodiversity Center director Danilo Ruback, the entity is a source of surveys and researches on the region’s typical wildlife. “Our location near the State Park of Rio Doce highlights the important part played by Usiminas Biodiversity Center. Initiatives like the Seedlings Nursery, Green Area Program and Beekeeping Project are just a few examples of how environmental preservation if of utmost importance to Usiminas”.

In addition to Ibama, the Biodiversity Center has also partnership agreements with the State Forest Institute, Environmental Police of Minas Gerais, Federal University of Minas Gerais and University Center East of Minas Gerais.

The Center has also a seedling nursery and native forest areas. It hosts the Usiminas Xerimbabo Project, an environmental initiative that started 27 years ago. Its 247-hectare area includes planted forests with native species and exotic remnants. It is located in the sub-basin of Nossa Senhora creek, comprising sixteen ponds along the creek length.

Before the Biodiversity Center land was reforested, great part of it was used as pasture for cattle and had no natural vegetation, not to mention the clear prevalence of environmental degradation process. In the 1960’s, with Usiminas decision of implementing its Green Area Program (in an land of almost 3,000 hectares spread over four municipalities in the Steel Valley) the former soil use practices were gradually replaced by a vegetation recovery plan and preservation of the existing water springs. Since then, Usiminas Biodiversity Center has progressively enlarged its activities and nowadays it is engaged in a wildlife recovery program, seedlings production, native forest recovery, beekeeping and organic compost production.