Europe and Central Asia
12 Sep 2014

Israel’s BirdLife Partner and Hanson cooperate to tackle invasive weeds

Invasive alien species infested the Hanaton quarry before the restoration project took place. Image by Alon Rotschild
By Alessia Calderalo

Romans, barbarians… there are countless examples of invasions in the history of mankind. But biological invasions also happen; we call the invaders “Invasive Alien Species” (IAS); and they are considered to be the second largest threat to global biodiversity after habitat loss.

Invasive alien species are animals or plants that are introduced, deliberately or accidentally, into new environments. Being flexible and resilient, they quickly adapt and take advantage over native species. Not all of them are dangerous, but some can cause serious environmental, health or economic hazards.

In Israel, some invasive plants are giving Hanson Israel (a subsidiary of the HeidelbergCement Group) a hard time. Weeds proliferate on quarries and other disturbed terrains and disperse a lot of seeds that contaminate the production of the quarries. The seeds are then accidentally transported to building sites across the country, where they grow, with their roots causing damage to roads, pipes and other infrastructure. Measures to rectify the damage cost a lot of money to the authorities and construction companies.

This chain of problems was pointed out to Hanson by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI, BirdLife Partner). Building on the initial success of their cooperation the two organisations are now launching a new joint project to promote “IAS free quarries” in Israel. The goal is to ensure that IAS free aggregates become the norm in construction. A systematic approach to IAS control will keep costs down while benefiting the environment. This will help Hanson Israel to brand itself as a supplier of clean aggregates.

Boris Barov, Partnership Coordinator for BirdLife Europe and HeidelbergCement, is excited about the project: “Prevention is better than any cure and I think the case of Hanson Israel and SPNI is a good example showing that biodiversity protection measures also make a clear business case”.

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.