Europe and Central Asia
10 Apr 2013

From the sands of the Sahara to the sands of CEMEX quarries

By BirdLife Europe

Sand martins make an amazing journey every winter from the Sahara to the UK to breed in piles of sand. This year, every CEMEX UK quarry will be creating the sheer banks of sand that Sand Martins love to make their homes in.

Sand martins live in colonies, sometimes with over 100 pairs breeding on a single site. As part of the CEMEX – BirdLife International partnership, BirdLife Partners RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and LPO (BirdLife in France) are working with CEMEX at quarries for birds like sand martins.

In addition to the creation of sand banks, CEMEX in partnership with the RSPB, is launching a Sand Martin awareness campaign with an advice sheet to help quarry site managers accommodate this protected species. CEMEX and the RSPB have put together a management plan to ensure that all 60 quarries have suitable nesting sites available for this year’s imminent return. The quarries will also ensure that the birds are not located close to the main operations and are also inaccessible to predators.

CEMEX’s Rugeley Quarry, near Cannock Chase in the West Midlands has created a suitable environment for the Sand Martin.

Gareth Fenna, CEMEX quarry manager commented “Every year about 200 sand martins come to the site and this year the sand pile is being placed close to Bevin’s Birches, which is a restored area where it will be nice and quiet. I’m sure our sand is as good for the sand martins as that found in the Sahara.“

The UK Sand Martin population has seen a noticeable decline in recent years, possibly due to the droughts in their winter feeding areas.  These birds, like the more common Barn Swallows and House Martins, undertake an amazing migration every winter, flying thousands of miles.

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Across the English Channel, CEMEX France – in cooperation with LPO - are implementing similar management techniques to protect Sand Martins and provide them with space to safely breed, highlighting that international partnerships (such as that between CEMEX and BirdLife initiated in 2007) can help facilitate species conservation at the flyway-scale. 

For more information please contact Elizabeth Young, CEMEX logo External Communications adviser at CEMEX

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.