Bangka Island in Indonesia has a long history of tin mining.

Years of extraction have taken their toll on the land, leaving it acidic, cratered and unsuitable for agriculture.

A group of businessmen who used to be involved in the mining industry are in the process of transforming 300 hectares of this ruined land, turning it into a lush botanical garden with fisheries, paddocks, fruit gardens and paddy fields.

Dolomite limestone is used initially to reduce the acidity of the soil, but perhaps the most important ingredient for restoring the land to a usable state is cow dung from the garden’s resident herd of 400 cattle.

Having been fermented for two weeks to revive the microbes, a tonne of the dung is added to the soil each day. At the very beginning of the process, 15 tonnes per hectare is needed.

The cows are fed with grass grown in the garden, and the milk they produce is given free to local school children. Fruit and vegetables grown in the plantations are sold to generate income, and the enterprise is now financially self-sustaining.

Amanda Burrell of the earthrise team visits Bangka Botanical Garden, which has been turned from a barren wasteland into a thriving habitat – now home to an estimated 2,000 species of flora and 200 fauna.

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Source: Al Jazeera