Europe and Central Asia
11 Dec 2013

Business partnership wins industry recognition

CEMEX quarry in Spain sets example for biodiversity action. Photo: Jonathan Rodriguez
CEMEX quarry in Spain sets example for biodiversity action. Photo: Jonathan Rodriguez
By Shaun Hurrell

Bordered by a major river and fringed with marsh vegetation supporting habitat-dependent species such as Western Marsh-harrier and Sedge Warbler, CEMEX’s Soto Pajares quarry near Madrid in Spain is intimately associated with an Important Bird Area (IBA) and Natura 2000 site.

SEO/BirdLife (Partner in Spain) have been working hard in conjunction with CEMEX Spain in order to protect and enhance biodiversity in and around the site, which was highlighted as a priority for the development of a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) as part of CEMEX and BirdLife International’s 10 year partnership.

Their collaborative efforts were recently recognised by winning a Special Award for Biodiversity for an “outstanding initiative within a Nature 2000 site in developing an outstanding BAP for the Soto Pajares quarry.”

This was part of the European Aggregates Association (UEPG*) Sustainability Awards, which promote good sustainability practice and reward examples that go beyond what is expected by the industry currently.

In the same Biodiversity category, CEMEX’s Rugeley quarry in the UK was recognised for excellence for its lowland heath restoration and management, undertaken in partnership with the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK).

Lowland heathland habitat restoration <br>at Rugeley quarry, UK. Photo: Neil Lambert, RSPB

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Rugeley and Soto Pajares are two leading Biodiversity Projects in Europe under the CEMEX-BirdLife Global Programme - the latter being a BAP Pilot Project for the CEMEX Mediterranean region. The progress made with these projects is promising for the global partnership and sets a high standard for the wider cement and aggregates industry.

"It is intended that the Awards should provide examples which others could follow," said Arnaud Colson, UEPG President.

Habitat action for biodiversity

SEO/BirdLife and a local NGO conducted extensive systematic wildlife surveys throughout the seasons to provide the 'biodiversity baseline' for the Soto Pajares BAP, including finding 120 bird species. CEMEX now has a clearer understanding of the operational risks its extractive activities pose to wildlife and consequently can begin adapting, updating and improving their operational practices.

The plan also aims to improve the conservation status of some species through the creation of shallow lakes, restoration of riparian forest and work to increase the extent and connectivity of marsh vegetation. The project is helping SEO/BirdLife enhance its understanding and management of the IBA.

Western Marsh-harrier hovering above marshland <br>around Soto Pajares quarry, Spain. Photo: Luis Martínez

The lowland heath restoration and management of Rugeley quarry and the surrounding Cannock Chase provides a wonderful opportunity to create habitat for heathland-specialist species. The Chase is the most northerly regular breeding location for Dartford Warbler - a priority species under the EU Birds Directive and classified as Near Threatened.

Nightjar and Woodlark have already started breeding on land restored by CEMEX and the RSPB, so it is hoped that as work continues, restored habitat will be suitable for Dartford Warbler too.

“A central part of CEMEX’s business strategy is to integrate biodiversity throughout its operations, seeking to create environmental conditions similar to or better than those that were present at the very beginning of the quarries’ life cycles,” said Luis Farias, CEMEX’s Senior Vice President of Energy and Sustainability. “Our partnership with BirdLife International plays a significant role on this”, he added.

Marco Lambertini, BirdLife's CEO said:

"This project gives confidence to BirdLife International, that given the right tools, guidance and expertise, extractive industries can successfully operate within the context of Europe’s ‘crown jewels’ for nature: our Natura 2000 sites." 

Find out more about BirdLife's Partnership with CEMEX, including a Case Study of the Soto Pajares BAP.

*UEPG stands for "Union Européenne des Producteurs de Granulats" (European Aggregates Association).

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.