Sitting cross-legged on a rough, wood plank floor, Jaidun is clad in the light-blue, button-up shirt that identifies the rehabilitation workers at PT Singlurus Pratama, a coal-mining company in East Kalimantan province, on the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo. With a cigarette in one hand and a ball of rice in the other, he explains how he and his coworkers have restored the forest surrounding the platform where he sits. First, they trucked in topsoil to cover the regraded and hard-packed rubble that filled the spent coal pits. Then they planted two tree species, acacia (Acacia mangium) and sengon (Paraserianthes falcataria), and filled a small pit that remained from mining with water and stocked it with fish. Once the trees grew large enough to cast shade, they built the platform to have a quiet, green place to eat lunch within the heart of the coal mine area. Jaidun said he was happy to see birds return to the new trees around the pond. Eating my own rice and sweating in the midday heat, I listened to Jaidun’s story of landscape transformation with a mixture of guarded optimism and resignation. I was there as a restoration ecology researcher from Yale University with my colleague, Arbainsyah, a botanist from the Tropenbos Indonesia Program. Together we were leading a project to evaluate the landscape rehabilitation strategy Jaidun had described. In East Kalimantan, the most intensively mined province in Indonesia, mine pits expand across more than 5 million hectares (12 million acres)…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer