Long-term mutually beneficial global partnership brings nature back to Sibelco quarries
SIBELCO have entered a partnership with BirdLife, an organization that works towards the conservation of wild birds, their habitats, and global biodiversity.
As part of the BirdLife strategy on biodiversity, new collaborations with the private sector are seen as fundamental to bring about transformative change. Businesses can play a critical role in helping to protect and restore nature, and in fighting the climate crisis.
When restored and maintained correctly, quarries are important sites full of biodiversity, and often home to many rare and threatened species. Through active restoration work, quarries can become a mosaic of different habitats, benefiting both people and nature.
Martin Harper, director of BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, explained: ‘The nature and climate emergency demands action by all of us, which is why we are delighted to support those in the private sector who are keen to deliver a nature-positive and net-zero future.
‘Building on our experience of working with other companies, we are delighted to be forging a new partnership with Sibelco to help them achieve their ambitious biodiversity goals and make a tangible contribution to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.’
Cathy Blervacq, Sibelco’s vice-president of sustainability, said: ‘Biodiversity is a key priority for Sibelco. This new collaboration brings our two organizations together to form a long-term and mutually beneficial global partnership that will reinforce the importance of biodiversity within the company and promote the development and restoration of key habitats.’
As part of Sibelco’s 150th anniversary, the company has also established a management agreement with Natuurpunt, BirdLife’s Belgian partner in Flanders, to rehabilitate a portion of Schansheide Quarry, in Dessel-Mol, northern Belgium.
Covering an area the size of 48 football fields, the 35ha site, which consists of a combination of heathland, grassland, deciduous and coniferous forest, wetland, and mudflats, will undergo further restoration and become a nature reserve.
The return of non-saleable sand and loam fractions via pipes from Sibelco’s sand-processing facility constantly creates new mudflats. In springtime, these become breeding grounds for common shelduck, little ringed plover, and northern lapwings, which are currently in decline. Other migrating waders such as stilts, dunlins, and sandpipers also benefit from this location as a stop-over and feeding site.
In the summer, the mudflats are a favourite resting place for grey heron and great white egrets. During the winter, they are visited by birds from the north, with greylag geese and tundra bean geese using the mudflats as a place to sleep, whilst ducks and grebes also visit the site.
Through a process of restoration and habitat creation, it is often possible to reverse the population decline of threatened species while keeping common species common, and Sibelco say they are excited to be embarking on this journey with BirdLife to deliver impactful benefits for nature, together.