Eco-friendly awards judge visits Aussie quarry

Aggregate producer and Heidleberg Cement subsidiary Hanson is hosting four teams of university students that are taking part in the Quarry Life Awards at its Clarence-Kables sand quarry in Lithgow, New South Wales.

The groups are investigating a range of topics including habitats for native frogs, the behaviour of wild dogs that access the site and assessing species diversity within rehabilitated areas.

The researchers had the opportunity to present their interim findings to visiting international jury member, Professor Ani Mardiastuti.

“The projects show a variety of biodiversity across the site and methods that can be adopted by Hanson,” she said.

“The wildlife is there. All four of the projects are of a very high quality and I am looking forward to reading their final reports come October.”

Diverse wildlife

PhD students Michael Sievers and Michelle Ryan started their individual research projects in March.

Self-confessed animal lover Ryan had identified three wild dogs on the site along with other animals including birds, rabbits, foxes, kangaroos and wild cats through cameras set up around the quarry.

She was hoping to identify what the dogs have been eating on the site by analysing scat samples in order to determine whether they are pests or biodiversity facilitators.

Sievers had been surveying the Clarence-Kables site and other wetlands in the local area to determine the population of native frogs and had identified three species on the Hanson site alone.

Results showed the quarry site had some bigger native amphibian populations than reference locations, according to a Hanson statement.

Sievers was also developing a guidebook for primary school students to assist in educating them about how to identify different native species and the role of quarries in biodiversity.

Grand prize

“The students have shown a real commitment to their projects and have conducted some excellent research,” national jury member and Hanson’s biodiversity manager Ken Brown said. “They are on topic and have results that can be applied throughout Australia and the world.

“The Quarry Life Awards are very important from a conservation perspective with research being undertaken on sites that usually aren’t open to the public.
“From Hanson’s perspective it is highlighting how much biodiversity we have on this site and how important quarries are to certain groups. These awards are a way of demonstrating that to the wider community.”

Eighty-six national jury members will evaluate the participants' project reports in October with cash grants of up to €5000 ($AUD7300) up for grabs when the winners are announced on 11 November.

An international jury will then evaluate the global winners and prizes include €10,000 ($AUD14,700). The best overall project will win €30,000 ($AUD44,000).

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