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Quarries and Nature

Looking after the land

One of the industry’s best kept secrets is the enormous contribution it makes to restoring and improving land after quarrying is complete.

Your nearest nature reserve or leisure lake may well have once been a quarry that has been carefully restored.

The mineral products industry has a long legacy of high-quality restoration. Because quarry companies directly work the land, they are especially well-placed to create the right conditions to help to protect and enhance UK biodiversity, including rare and threatened species.

Borrowed from nature

Quarrying is a temporary rather than permanent use of land. Sand and gravel quarries in particular may last a little as 10 years and the land that’s excavated is progressively worked and restored, ie in phases. 

Once the mineral has been removed, restoration may involve returning the land to farming with no obvious sign that it had ever been quarried. But it often provides an opportunity to create new nature reserves, leisure facilities or other amenities. Rock quarries take longer to restore because they are usually deeper, and are worked for longer, but they too may be returned to farming or used to create new areas for people, recreation and wildlife.

Legacy of biodiversity

Today well over 100 restored quarries form a network of nature reserves, many of which have national designations.

The creation and management of new wildlife habitats is often carried out in partnership with national and local conservation groups. Biodiversity and geodiversity action plans are commonplace among MPA members to ensure the highest levels of environmental management.

Looking ahead, MPA members are planning to increase the area of priority habitats on restored sites from at least 8,000 hectares to around 20,000 hectares in the coming years, and increase the length of hedgerows planted from 100 km to almost 370 km. MPA members typically plant 200,000 trees per year. 

Because of its approach, Britain’s mineral products industry is a world leader in terms of the quality of its land restoration work. The MPA has been running an award scheme to recognise outstanding restoration for over 50 years, and in 2011, launched specific biodiversity awards. MPA members have dedicated teams working to further improvements in biodiversity and the MPA actively supports the UK’s Nature After Minerals initiative.

Habitat Creation

Created to end 2021 (8,300ha or 83 km2)

Planned - Not yet delivered (>11,000ha or >110km2)