HeidelbergCement honors innovative projects for biodiversity promotion

The winners of the International Quarry Life Award have been announced (Fig. 1). On 13.12.2012, the awards were presented to the international recipients at a ceremony in Heidelberg. The guest speaker for the event was none other than primate researcher, UN Messenger of Peace and environmental activist, Jane Goodall (Fig. 2), Dame of the British Empire. She spoke about the current threats to the planet, but also about what she sees as reasons for hope.

With the Quarry Life Award, HeidelbergCement has established a competition at international level, with the aim of discovering new ideas for the promotion of biodiversity at quarry sites. More than 300 projects from 18 countries were submitted to this year’s competition. In autumn 2012, following a practical research phase of the 80 best projects, three winners were decided per country as well as the three global award winners. The three best projects in the individual countries received monetary awards of 1500 €, 3000 € and 5000 €; the three winners of the international competition were awarded 10 000 €, 20 000 € and 30 000 €.

Winner of the International Quarry Life Award was the team from the Czech Republic (Fig. 3): Klára Řehounková, Lenka Schmidtmayerová, ­Kamila ­Lencová of the University of South Bohemia in ­Budweis and Jiří Řehounek of the environmental organisation Calla. They mapped a variety of habitats at the CEP II gravel pit near the city of Třeboň and recorded the ­species diversity of numerous groups of organisms. Their research showed that undisturbed, natural development of open areas on or around the shorelines of the extraction zones permits a considerably greater abundance of species development than only reforestation.

The second prize was awarded to the team led by Paul K. Nsiah in Ghana. They conducted experiments in the Yongwa quarry in Ghana, which proved that surface erosion caused by heavy rains can be contained using mats woven of ‘elephant grass’. The key to the success of this concept is that the grass grows ­abundantly and the erosion control mats can be ­produced by the local community – resulting in new ­income streams for people living nearby the extraction sites.

Third place went to Philip Wheeler, Sue Hull, ­William Mayes and Caroline Pindar from the University of Hull in the UK. They studied the constellation of wading bird species in the lakes of England’s ­Wykeham pits. The focus was on the question of how the makeup of species diversity is tied to the composition of the sand deposits in silt lagoons. Because aggregates extraction sites are important stepping stones for bird migration, the habitat improvements derived from the project can bring about an enormous increase in their significance as foraging grounds for resting migratory species.

“The first Quarry Life Award was a complete ­success,” said Dr Bernd Scheifele, Chairman of the Managing Board of HeidelbergCement, on the occasion of the award ceremony. “We are proud of the acceptance and enthusiasm with which we were greeted in every country by contestants and participating environmental organisations, as well as our own employees. Through the Quarry Life Award and the results of the many projects, we are striving to contribute to a sustainable increase in knowledge – across national boundaries – about the biological value of mineral ­extraction sites. That is our aim, which is why we will continue to carry on the competition as we move into the future.“

Keynote speaker Jane Goodall and Heidelberg­Cement are linked through a cooperation that has been ongoing in Tanzania for two years now. Together they want to foster awareness of sustainable land use and forestry, but also to create employment and prosperity. A joint educational project has been initiated with the representatives of the Jane Goodall Institute Tanzania and local schools in the vicinity of the ­cement plant in Dar es Salaam. In the tree nursery, that has been ­established on the former quarry site, the students learn about the issues of species and nature protection and pass this knowledge on to their fellow students.

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