At first glance, the large-scale excavation of raw materials would appear to destroy nature and undermine biodiversity. Yet quarries and gravel pits actually provide an important habitat for plants and animals that are being increasingly displaced by development in other areas. Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated that quarries, gravel pits, and other open-pit mines can be extremely valuable for environmental protection, for they offer undisturbed habitats for rare and protected species.
Prior to commencing mining operations at a given site, HeidelbergCement conducts environmental impact assessments. In addition to being economically attractive, a potential project must be compatible with the goals of environmental protection. We assign high priority to mining techniques that minimize environmental damage as well as to measures for the subsequent rehabilitation of mining sites.
In order to promote biological diversity at our mines, we have adopted group-wide guidelines for species protection. HeidelbergCement is the first company in the construction materials sector to do this. The ten principles set forth in these guidelines are designed to facilitate dialogue with environmental protection authorities and associations, as well as with the broader public. They are also designed to promote biological diversity and environmental health both during and after mining operations.
Quarry Life Award
In 2015 we held our third Quarry Life Award research competition, which is designed to make people aware of the high biological value of our quarries. Here, we offer young scientists and students the opportunity to conduct research at 69 quarries and gravel pits in 22 countries, and enter their projects in both national and international competitions. The winners will be announced at the end of 2016.
Cooperation with BirdLife International
Together with our cooperation partner BirdLife International, one of the largest international conservation organizations, we developed a biodiversity strategy and implement species protection projects in several different European countries. These include, for example, the settlement of Taurus cattle and Konik horses at the Gerhausen quarry close to Blaubeuren, Germany. The semi-natural all-year grazing contributes to preserving the high nature conservation value of the quarry. We are working on this project in cooperation with the German BirdLife partner NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union). In the United Kingdom, we are closely collaborating with the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) to transform the Needingworth quarry in Cambridgeshire into a nature reserve with the largest reed bed habitat in the United Kingdom.
In the beginning of 2015, the partnership was extended for another three years - until the end of 2017.