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Industry committed to improving the state of nature

MPA highlights members’ invaluable biodiversity and restoration work at Conference for Nature

LAST Wednesday (3 September), Nigel Jackson, chief executive of the Mineral Products Association (MPA), spoke about the vital biodiversity and restoration work of MPA members at the Conference for Nature in Westminster, an event that followed on from the launch of the State of Nature report in 2013.

Sir David Attenborough; The Rt Hon Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister; Barry Gardiner MP, Shadow Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries; and Andy Spencer, sustainability director for CEMEX, also spoke at the event.

Darren Moorcroft, from the State of Nature partnership, said: ‘The groundbreaking State of Nature report launched last year by Sir David Attenborough and the country’s leading wildlife groups revealed that 60% of the UK’s native species are in decline. Despite all the work that is being done, wildlife is still in trouble and we need to think bigger if we are going to tackle the crisis nature is facing. This conference marks the start of a new way of tackling this crisis, by bringing industry, politicians and conservationists together to find game-changing solutions.’

Nigel Jackson said: ‘The MPA totally supports the aim of protecting and enhancing the state of nature and biodiversity delivery across the UK and EU, and we will play our part where we can. Our industry is uniquely placed to make a difference, more than any other. Our industry operators are practitioners working in the environment, with the environment, and mainly for the environment.

‘Supporting biodiversity is a key aim for us: it is a key part of our license to operate. It also makes good business sense to restore sites to high quality and help deliver national and local environmental priorities and biodiversity targets. We can demonstrate the overall gains in environmental quality as result of our operations, as well as community support for, and use of, our sites.

‘The Association launched its MPA Biodiversity strategy in 2011, which shows our commitment to extend knowledge, share best practice, develop partnerships, celebrate successes, understand contributions, increase influence and promote education. Our two-yearly Restoration & Biodiversity Awards help recognize and showcase best practice by our members and harden commitment.

‘Last year we launched our National Nature Park – a nationwide network of quarries that have been restored for wildlife and which are accessible to the public. The online resource includes 50 sites around the country with a range of facilities including nature trails, viewing hides and visitor centres. It is our aim to double the number of quarries in the network to 100 over the next year or so. Furthermore, the RSPB and Nature after Minerals (NAM) have helped us realize that we can deliver nine priority habitats.

‘And what of the actual delivery on the ground, what about those priority habitats that NAM identified? At least 5,000ha of priority habitat has been created to date on restored sites; and at least 5,000ha of priority habitat is committed to (but not yet delivered) in restoration plans – and growing all the time.’

Mr Jackson continued: ‘We have developed other important partnerships with The Wildlife Trusts, Natural England, The Freshwater Habitats Trust, The Bumblebee Conservation Trust and The Bat Conservation Trust. This is good because it encourages dialogue, shares thinking, enriches practice, accelerates progress and helps tell our story – but it is important not to be complacent. So where next?

‘We will build and validate the database, we will evaluate the asset better, we will capitalize on offsetting and ecosystem services, we will write the story better, we will tell the story better.

Our aim is to see the industry shake off historic and false perceptions and become recognized as a very significant national biodiversity asset.’

The purpose of this major invitation only conference event was to bring together leaders from all sectors to look at game-changing and innovative projects with nature and conservation at their hearts. As well as featuring MPA members’ work, the conference looked at a number of other high-profile projects, showcasing how sustainability and nature go hand in hand with business.

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