LOW COST QUARRY MANAGEMENT PRODUCING HIGH GAIN BIODIVERSITY: USING GIS TO QUANTIFY EFFECTIVE QUARRY MANAGEMENT REGIMES

Gerald Lucas, Pauline Michell, Noel Williams

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Abstract

A large scale biodiversity study of Cefn Mawr quarry, Mold, North Wales provided a scientific database for the operator. The project aimed to develop a set of ‘biodiversity indicators’ that would inform sustainable mineral operations at mineral extraction sites whilst simultaneously protecting ecological and landscape interests. The results helped fashion the production of the corporate guideline ‘Promotion of biodiversity at the mineral extraction sites of HeidelbergCement’. Cefn Mawr quarry is a Carboniferous limestone quarry providing feedstock for the nearby Padeswood Hanson Cement plant. At the time of the survey it was operated by Castle Cement. A range of ecological surveys were carried out over a six month period (covering late spring, summer and early autumn 2008). They included a JNCC Phase 1 Habitat survey, butterfly and dragonfly surveys and an assessment of water bodies for amphibians. Any habitats not categorised by the JNCC Phase 1 Habitat survey were described as ‘Partial Living Spaces’ and were incorporated within the GIS model and used to assess the biodiversity of the site. They added significantly to the biodiversity count and biodiversity indicators. The authors argue that Partial Living Spaces should become part of biodiversity audits at mineral extraction sites because of their contribution to the quantification of biodiversity. Data recorded were analysed within ESRI ArcGIS. The analysis considered the range of habitats and levels of floral diversity found within different zones (operational, restoration and buffer) of the quarry. Wildlife was found to be thriving in the most disturbed parts of the quarry with evidence of a range of species found in the operational zone. Around 300 species of flora were identified on the site. The density of flora (species per hectare) found in the operational and restoration zones of the quarry, together were greater than that in the buffer zone. The buffer zone was considered to be an analogue for the surrounding upland countryside. Statutorily-protected and ‘Nationally Scarce’ species were also present. The analysis demonstrated that a continuous cycle of disturbance is a key factor in increasing the levels of biodiversity within the quarry. The GIS proved to be an effective tool in recording and analysing the variety of habitats and their species. The quarry had not employed any sophisticated or costly procedures to foster biodiversity. Restoration had been conducted using low cost in-house techniques that had been designed to be cost effective and promote biodiversity. The GIS demonstrated that these techniques had been successful. A number of management approaches were suggested to enhance the biodiversity and are now employed by the quarry as part of the Quarry Biodiversity Management Plan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-146
JournalProceedings of the 17th Extractive Industry Geology Conference
Volume17
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jan 2014

Keywords

  • GIS Biodiversity Quarry

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