A study, released today by HeidelbergCement and BirdLife International shows the biodiversity potential of HeidelbergCement quarries in Europe and Central Asia. The study is an assessment of the interaction between quarries and areas of biodiversity value and of the potential for conservation action.
Since 2012 HeidelbergCement and BirdLife International have worked in Partnership to enhance biodiversity at the HeidelbergCement mining sites across Europe. During the first year of Partnership BirdLife International assessed over 400 quarries in Europe and Central Asia and rolled out a proximity study (1) to evaluate the potential of quarries regarding biodiversity. This proximity study focused on the assessment of the relationship and potential interaction with areas of high biodiversity value. It included the identification of opportunities and constraints in these areas which will help both partners to identify priorities for further conservation actions in and around these sites. The results of this proximity study are now available and clearly show HeidelbergCement mining sites provide good basis for biodiversity promotion.
As the BirdLife-HeidelbergCement Biodiversity Conservation Programme (2) aims to identify priorities for conservation actions on a European scale, the assessment has been performed using European biodiversity values. The study covers 425 HeidelbergCement sites located in 20 European and Central Asian countries (3), of which 341 sites are active and 84 are inactive. 309 sites refer to aggregate quarries (material used in construction, including sand and gravel) and 116 to limestone quarries for cement.
The objective of this study is to focus the joint Biodiversity Conservation Programme on priority sites and on conservation issues. But more generally, it will help HeidelbergCement avoid and minimise risks arising from mining activities in proximity to important biodiversity values and will facilitate the HeidelbergCement reporting process on relevant key performance indicators (KPI).
The biodiversity objectives identified through this study target species and habitats conservation actions in and around mining sites and quarries. These objectives will then be gradually integrated into the daily operations at priority quarries via Biodiversity Management Plans.
As a basis for this study, BirdLife International created a database compiling data from all HeidelbergCement sites within 1 km of a Natura 2000 area with Important Bird Areas (IBA) – areas recognized as being globally important habitat for the conservation of bird populations -and International/National protected areas. The database shows 305 interactions between 153 HeidelbergCement sites and these areas of biodiversity value.
HeidelbergCement adopted ambitious corporate targets (4) to “deliver a prominent positive contribution to biodiversity” and “to establish a leadership position in the development of biodiversity at its mining and quarrying sites”. Thanks to the results of this study HeidelbergCement will focus its biodiversity efforts even more effectively. Clear biodiversity goals have been identified, including sensitive areas and priority sites at European level. 10 priority countries have been identified where the Partnership can further develop and a project fund of 100,000 EUR has been established for 2013 to develop projects to further the efforts of HeidelbergCement towards biodiversity leadership. These projects will be jointly implemented by the country and local units of HeidelbergCement, together with national BirdLife partners.
The following countries have been identified as priority countries as they contain a large amount of quarry sites that coincide with areas of biodiversity value.
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As a result of the study the following actions are proposed:
- Development of Biodiversity Management Plans in 84 quarries
- Implementation of measures based on Biodiversity Management Plans (BMPs) in a minimum of 67 quarries
- Stakeholder engagement and education activities at all quarries
- Species focused projects (at least 23 IBA trigger species may benefit from quarry habitats)
- Conservation of biodiversity values on non-productive land around the quarries by engagement with the relevant stakeholders and promoting nature oriented land stewardship at a landscape scale.
Conservation Programme Coordinator
Dr. Michael Rademacher
Global Manager Biodiversity and Natural Resources
 Methodology: The principle method of this study is GIS supported analysis of geographical proximity using maps and tabular data. Each mining site received a biodiversity interaction score, representing their proximity to one or multiple areas of biodiversity value. Mining sites that are located closer to such areas and/or interact with multiple areas received higher score. The mining sites were ranked in descending order according to the biodiversity interaction score. In addition to geographic criteria we assessed the opportunity for biodiversity action at each of the 425 mining sites, using four comparable criteria. A single final score for opportunity, ranging between 4 and 12, was attributed to each mining site.
 The BirdLife-HeidelbergCement Biodiversity Conservation Programme is described in the leaflet “BirdLife Europe and HeidelbergCement partner to enhance biodiversity in quarries”.
 Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine and United Kingdom
 HeidelbergCement Sustainability Ambitions 2020 state that by 2020 100% of HeidelbergCement quarries under active exploitation will have a restoration plan. For the cement business line, by 2020 at least 50% of mining sites that are located within or adjacent to areas designated for their high biodiversity value will have a Biodiversity Management Plan actively implemented.