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 2016, HeidelbergCement organised the Quarry Life Award for the third time. The research competition is targeted at scientists, university students, and non-governmental organisations as well as our neighbours in the communities where our facilities are located. In 2016, more than 490 applications were received, from which the juries selected 94 projects to compete for the award at the national and international levels. More than 300 researchers and many other interested individuals worked to implement these projects in 69 quarries and gravel pits in 21 countries. The overall grand prize was awarded to a Spanish team investigating the ecological connectivity of waterbodies in gravel quarries for semi-aquatic mammals, and explored how to enhance this connectivity for greater biodiversity gain.
Cooperation with BirdLife International
Since 2012, we have also been cooperating with the largest international nature conservation organisation, BirdLife International. Our work with BirdLife International and our cooperation with its national partner organisations help us minimise our environmental impact and promote biodiversity in our quarries and the surrounding areas. Together with BirdLlife, 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.