Tiffany & Co. leads the funding for a new sustainable farmland project in Sierra Leone that restores land damaged by abandoned diamond mining operations.
Armed conflict and years of unhealthy mining operations have made Sierra Leone first in line for the new Peace Diamonds Restoration Initiative, aimed at rehabilitating land damaged by small-scale and artisanal diamond mining.
The project is backed by a catalytic grant from founding supporter, The Tiffany & Co. Foundation. It’s also supported by Brilliant Earth and the Gemological Institute of America.
Sierra Leone is one of many African nations with an abundance of abandoned mining pits, contaminated water, and degraded land and soil. This compromises areas needed for farming and poses public health risks and safety hazards.
The news follows the recent formation of the first trade association for gold miners in Sierra Leone aimed at protecting workers and the land.
The Peace Diamonds Restoration Initiative
The new effort, launched by non-governmental organization, Resolve, works across national and regional governments, local leaders, and community members to restore land at abandoned mine sites, turning it into arable farm land or outfitting it for other sustainable uses. The Peace Diamonds Restoration Initiative is also focused on gender equity and involving women in the decision-making process as well as offering workshops to empower women to become stewards of the land.
“Our teams have found that women play a critical role in the Peace Diamonds Restoration Initiative,” National Coordinator Alidor Mwamba, said in a statement. “They respond to an opportunity to make their communities safer, target diseases like malaria, and grow food.”
“We have an opportunity to start again,” says Fea Momoh, leader of the Sierra Leone Kuyendoya farmer-based organization, a mini-agricultural cooperative.
“The wide range of support provided to us by Peace Diamonds truly brings healing and cohesion to us as a group and redeems the years we lost when these lands were not restored after diamond mining.”
The project has already rehabilitated 90 abandoned mine pits, turning them into arable land. Resolve says pilot projects in Sierra Leone have yielded soil, water, air, and biodiversity benefits “while contributing to new food supplies and economic opportunities for rural farmers.”
The next step will see the project scale across the country, expanding next to Democratic Republic of Congo within five years, as well as other countries with high mining concentrations. The next phase of the project will see the development of national frameworks aimed at plans for broader restoration, biodiversity, change adaptation and mitigation, sustainable food production, and promotion of alternative livelihoods.
“The Peace Diamonds Restoration Initiative helps communities heal the land and achieve closure, and it’s an ideal way for the diamond and jewelry industry, from industrial miners to retailers, to give back,” says Resolve President and CEO Stephen D’Esposito.
“We are asking industry leaders, donors and governments to join our partnership and make it an industry-wide effort to help these communities while making concrete progress on commitments outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
Tiffany & Co. philanthropy
The news comes just after Tiffany & Co. donated millions to the Nature Conservancy following a $6.5 million sale last December of a Patek Philippe Ref. 5711 Nautilus watch featuring a Tiffany Blue dial.
The Foundation has long been a supporter of the Conservancy, working on six projects since 2007.
“The Nature Conservancy works around the world to address some of the biggest challenges facing the planet, our economies, and our communities. Food security, access to safe and clean water, air quality, and forests, oceans, rivers, and grasslands all depend on a healthy relationship with nature,” Nature Conservancy CEO Jennifer Morris said.
“Tiffany & Co. has mobilized funds that will support our efforts to scale solutions in some of the world’s most threatened and critical places.”
Five regions threatened by climate change and dealing with biodiversity loss will see conservation efforts thanks to the donation. Papua New Guinea will see more than seven million acres of tropical forests and marine areas protected. Local protection efforts will support forests in Borneo, an area ravaged by Indonesia’s booming palm oil industry.
Belize is expected to see conservation efforts for more than 235,000 acres of the Maya Forest. In the Caribbean, funding will support the region’s threatened coral reefs and protect marine areas.
Alaska will also see funding, with efforts going toward the Tongass National Forest—part of the largest temperate rainforest on the planet. Indigenous Alaskan communities will also see some of the funding; members of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian tribes will receive support and funding from the Seacoast Trust.