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Celebrating the wonders of wetlands: A homecoming for migratory birds!

As we celebrate World Migratory Bird Day, globally united under this year’s theme of water and wetlands, let us embark on a journey to restore and safeguard the habitats that these incredible globe-trotters rely on. From vast marshes to petite ponds, these havens come in all shapes and sizes.

For nearly two decades, BirdLife has joined forces with leaders in the mineral extraction sector, collaborating to identify and restore extraction sites that hold immense value for migratory birds and sedentary birds alike. 

The transformative potential of quarries is awe-inspiring. Through careful planning and harmonized quarry activities, companies such as Heidelberg Materials and Sibelco have succeeded in creating environments that welcome migratory species with open wings. Upon reclamation, these sites boast a tapestry of open water, reedbeds, and wetlands, offering critical breeding grounds and vital stopovers for countless aquatic migrants.

“Many migratory birds rely on wetlands. As these precious ecosystems face mounting threats and decline, well-managed quarries have the potential to bridge this gap”

Richard Grimmett, Director of Conservation at BirdLife International

One stellar collaboration between BirdLife’s UK Partner, RSPB, and Hanson UK, a subsidiary of Heidelberg Materials, has birthed the majestic Ouse Fen nature reserve. This haven of specific wetland habitats, carefully crafted after extraction, acts as a lifeline for the struggling Bittern populations in the UK, among numerous other wetland species.

In Schansheide, Belgium, Sibelco’s dredging operations have found new purpose through collaboration with Natuurpunt, BirdLife’s Flemish Partner. This rejuvenated wetland area now thrives as a paradise of mudflats and reedbeds, enticing a vibrant array of migrant waders. It’s a testament to the power of reclamation, where humans and nature dance in harmony once more.

As we honour the remarkable journeys of migratory birds, let us pledge to protect and restore the waterlogged wonderlands they call home. You can sign our petition calling on the EU to implement an ambitious Nature Restoration Law here, and help us ensure a future the epic migrations of our feathered friends continue to grace our skies.

Image credits: Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) © Barend van Gemerden

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