The 2nd February is World Wetlands Day. This day marks the signing in 1971 of the Ramsar convention, formally recognising the importance of wetlands for their ecological, scientific and economic value, and the need for conservation and sustainable management of such areas.
Celebrating World Wetland Day is an important way to raise awareness in the wider community of the worth of wetlands, something HeidelbergCement also contributes to through the restoration of quarries.
Intensive agriculture in lowland areas has degraded and depleted wetland habitats all around the world, but particularly in Europe. Aggregate extraction sites, however, offer great potential to be rehabilitated into wetland areas, offering new habitats for a range of flora and fauna.
One such rehabilitation project was planned and initially implemented during the Quarry Life Award in 2012. Philip Wheeler from the University of Hull tackled the plight of wading birds whose numbers are dwindling due to lack of wetland habitats.
To remedy this Philip’s project investigated sediment composition, food availability and bird activity at Wykeham quarry in Yorkshire, United Kingdom. The aim was to use the results to create practical guidelines for quarry managers on how to improve management of sediments to increase the biodiversity value of silt lagoons. You can read more about the project in the QLA 2012 archive.
Philip won first prize in the national contest and third in the international contest. Since then the project has been taken up by BirdLife, HeidelbergCement’s partner in biodiversity projects worldwide. The success of this project and collaboration with BirdLife demonstrates how important wetlands are for increasing biodiversity and is a prime example of how industrial sites can be rehabilitated to give nature a second chance.