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The roadmap to biodiversity

There is a drive to reverse environmental damage caused by industrialisation across sectors. In line with them is the quarrying industry.

Across various industries there is a drive to enhance biodiversity. In line with them is the quarrying industry. 

The European cement association Cembureau believes that going above and beyond legal requirements for quarry rehabilitation is the best way to ensure the longevity of biodiversity. Doing so can give way to new habitats and allow rare and threatened species to thrive.

“The European cement industry is committed to achieving the goals set in the EU Green Deal,” Cembureau chief executive Koen Coppenholle said in a press release.

“In addition to climate change, one of the key priorities of our industry is to protect and preserve the rich ecosystems thriving in and around our quarries and make a strong contribution to biodiversity across the EU.”

Correspondingly, Cembureau has outlined goals to put a stop to biodiversity loss during the lifecycle of a quarry using rehabilitation processes in its 2030 Biodiversity Roadmap.

The roadmap outlines key actions and objectives for the industry until 2030 in four key areas: ecosystem rehabilitation and ecosystem services; EU pollinators initiative; invasive species; and protected species.

Each area has its own vision, targets, and monitoring mechanisms.

The roadmap aims to help, guide, and influence companies to better manage biodiversity. The Cembureau also hopes to inspire collaboration between the cement industry and other stakeholders such as conservation associations and regulators.

“Quarries are home to a rich variety of species, as many different habitat types are often encountered, with the transitional zones between offering significant biodiversity interest,” the roadmap said.

“These transition zones between habitats, known as ‘ecotones’, support better biodiversity outcomes. Extractive activities support habitat succession, which in turn helps support pioneer species, including wildflowers and pollinator,” it explained.

A good example of this is the working partnership between Belgian industrial material solutions company Sibelco and wild bird conservation organisation BirdLife.

Sibelco has recognised that non-saleable sand and loam fractions via pipes from its sand-processing facility constantly creates new mudflats.

In Spring, the mudflats attract several bird species that are in decline, such as common shelduck, little ringed plover, and northern lapwings. Other migrating waders such as stilts, dunlins, and sandpipers also benefit from this location as a stop-over and feeding site.

Come summer, the mudflats are favoured by grey herons and great white egrets as a resting place. In winter, birds from the north such as greylag geese and tundra bean geese sleep on the mudflats. Ducks and grebes also visit the site.

Through a process of restoration and habitat creation, Sibelco and BirdLife intend to reverse the population decline of threatened species and maintain existing populations of common bird species.

BirdLife believes that collaborations with the private sector is key to maintaining biodiversity and bring about transformative change as it believes that businesses are key to fighting the climate change.

Understanding the need to protect biodiversity, the MPA has released its 2022 Position Statement ‘Minerals in Designated Landscapes’, detailing long-term plans for mineral extraction in designated landscapes.

The statement aims to highlight its support of the evolving Natural Policy Planning Framework in the UK, recognising that equal consideration should be given to conserving and enhancing landscapes of natural beauty while recognising that minerals and mineral products are essential to the economy and overall quality of life.

The statement outlined the importance of minimising the environmental impact of mineral extraction while continuing to deliver economic and regional benefits to those communities directly involved in quarrying.

The statement included four main points, including need to supply the high-value minerals society requires from within National Parks and AONBs.

It also highlighted the need to focus on permitted reserves in designated landscapes and AONBs and continue to supply sustainable sources which feed into the larger supply chain. These chains will also continue to support ongoing employment in rural areas where jobs can be scarce, the MPA said.

Thirdly, the statement reassured that the MPA has a strong track record of restoring former quarry sites and stated that “MPA members will continue to ensure environmental effects are minimised and positive benefits are delivered through sensitive restoration, aftercare and after use.”

Finally, industry applications for mineral extraction will continue to operate within the requirements of the National Planning Policy. Any new applications will need to demonstrate sustainability benefits and the ability to mitigate and moderate environmental effects, the MPA said.

This feature first appeared in the July issue of Quarry.

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