The Quarry Life Award – a unique approach to innovative biodiversity management

During its 4th edition, HeidelbergCement’s lighthouse biodiversity contest engaged hundreds of students, researchers and NGOs in the protection of natural wildlife at mining sites; the seven winners were celebrated during the International Ceremony in Brussels.
“The Quarry Life Award not only enables students, researchers and NGOs to engage in exceptional hands-on research but also helps HeidelbergCement to further improve our biodiversity management, and to strengthen our bonds to scientific research, local communities and nature conservation in general”, emphasized Managing Board Member Dr. Albert Scheuer in his opening speech of the International Quarry Life Award Ceremony. The event took place in Brussels
on 05.12.2018 at the Flemish theatre KVS, which offered a special auditorium: a huge globe made of concrete.
Nature as the biggest winner
It was the fourth time the company proposed this science and education contest that aims at raising awareness of the organic value of mining sites and finding new ways to further enhance it. This year, over 100 project groups from 25 countries competed in different categories following the motto “Nature will be the biggest winner”. From roosting boxes for micro bats, to creating a biodiversity hiking trail and gaining relevant knowledge about pollinators in quarries – the QLA 2018 provided a great variety of new insights into biodiversity in quarries and its management.
A variety of criteria for winner selection
The seven International Jury members followed clear criteria when deciding upon the six category winners, each receiving € 10000 prize money, and the Grand Prize winner, who was awarded with € 30000. “We paid special attention to the innovation of a project idea, its transferability to other operation sites as well as benefits generated for HeidelbergCement”, explained Dr. Carolyn Jewell, Senior Manager Biodiversity of the company and chairwoman of the jury.
The winning projects are as follows:

Grand Prize (€ 30000)
Can quarries offer sufficient food resources for an entire growing season? Do active quarries, reclaimed quarries and cultural landscapes differ as to their suitability for pollinators? The winning team from the Masaryk University, Czech Republic answered these questions by providing scientific evidence about the importance of quarries (active and reclaimed) as a lifeline for declining populations of bees.
International prizes by category (€ 10000)
–Biodiversity Management
Ruling the Roost: Developing Thermally Optimal Roosts to Enhance Micro Bat Population Biodiversity: Micro bats are valuable assistants in enhancing agriculture and forest productivity due to their appetite for insect pests. Researchers from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology designed a thermally optimal roosting box protecting the bats against a lifethreatening fungal disease.
– Habitat & Species
From Time to Time, from Quarry to Nature: An Italian research team from the university Milano-Bicocca received the award for evaluating the success of different restoration methods. Their study highlighted the importance of natural colonisation of vegetation, and the use of nearby suitable meadows as a seed source during the reclamation and habitat creation process.
– Beyond quarry borders
Restoration and Optimization of the Functionality of a Secondary Channel in Charny-sur-Meuse: The decline of valuable wetland areas has become a global problem. Along one of HC’s quarries in France, wetland had been declared ‘degraded’ in 2009. QLA contestants succeeded in restoring and improving the area’s functionality – especially the connection with the main river, which is essential for the reproduction of two red-listed fish species in France.
– Biodiversity & education
Communicating Boxes: An Educational Project about Valdilecha’s Quarry: Spanish students and their teachers followed a creative approach to biodiversity: they have prepared wooden boxes as display cabinets. These featured many artefacts showing the different species which can be found in quarries. The boxes were exhibited in various educational centres to improve the public’s understanding and opinion about nature and quarries.
– Student class project
A Brand-New Approach to Plantation in Bozalan Clay: This award went to a group of Turkish students. During the project, they were exposed to real life situations that the company faces when reclaiming its quarries. The students worked collaboratively to come up with solutions to increase the biodiversity value of a quarry through vertical and horizontal planting.
– Connecting quarries & communities
The Tice’s Meadow Biodiversity Trail: Learning about nature in quarries while going for a walk is now possible in a nature reserve and former quarry in Great Britain. Building a 1.5-mile long self-guided biodiversity trail lined by noticeboards, interpretation panels and new habitats for wildlife the team created a sense of ownership within the community, thereby connecting quarries and communities.
The winners were celebrated by Members of the Managing Board of HeidelbergCement as well as representatives of industry, associations, nature protection organisations and politics. HeidelbergCement will now select project teams that get the chance to further implement their findings in 2019 before the next edition of the QLA will start in 2020.

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