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  • Creating habitats big and small by Nature After Minerals

    Sheep Pasture Incline, High Peak Trail, Derbyshire (Photo: Clive Mitchell)

    Nature After Minerals (NAM) – an RSPB-led partnership programme with support form Natural England, the Mineral Products Association and the British Aggregates Association – just digs quarries!  The programme does all it can to highlight the great potential quarries represent not only in helping supply our everyday products and major infrastructure but in helping to provide a vital home for nature and refuge for people, once extraction work is completed.


    Dotted across our national landscape, these sites are unique in their potential to deliver for nature after commercial operations, by providing stepping stone refuges for some of our most endangered species and linking conservation hotspots across the land to provide vital corridors of habitat for species to move along.


    In a review of quarries in England conducted by the RSPB in 2006, it was found that, restored in the right way with nature very much in mind, such sites alone had the potential to meet 9 out of  11 of the existing Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) habitat creation targets at the time.


    NAM therefore offers advice on and promotes the design, creation and management of priority habitats to help replace fast-disappearing habitats on a landscape scale.


    However, on the other side of the coin, everyone can take simple measures to help create habitats which could make the world of difference to some of our embattled species such as pollinating butterflies, bees, flies and insects – whether on an exposed scree of a working quarry at a larger scale, or, on a small scale, in our own gardens, as will be exemplified within the Institute of Quarrying’s #QuarryGarden at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Shower.  A quiet, sunny and open location could be the perfect spot to create a butterfly and solitary bee bank, for instance:


    Butterfly and solitary bee bank


    • Dependent on the amount of space available in whichever location, this simple yet effective habitat could be created quite literally just from a mound of waste or ‘reject’ aggregate from the local chalk, limestone or sandstone quarry (not gravel). An alternative, in gardens, is to use crushed recycled rubble, obtainable in bulk from a number of building suppliers.
    • Locate the bank in a warm sunny area. If possible construct it into an irregular shape with a high proportion of the surface facing south through to west to maximise exposure to sun.
    • Sow a wildflower mix, including for example: birdsfoot trefoil, kidney vetch, wild basil and vipers bugloss.
    • For a more formal finish you may instead want to plant some drought tolerant shrubs and herbaceous plants, for example: lavender, thyme, rock rose, coneflower, sea holly and verbena.
    • Because of the nutrient-poor materials used and drought-like conditions, plants will grow reasonably slowly but will probably need some occasional judicious thinning at the end of each winter. Ideally, 20-30% bare soil should be maintained across the bank.


    For further information on creating habitat and attracting bugs, bees and pollinating insects, go to BuglifeBumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation – then go to your local nature-restored quarry to enjoy a lovely walk and be yourself restored, enjoying our wonderful natural environment.

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Our hashtag for the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2017 #QuarryGarden
Logo for Institute of Quarrying
Link to ShopatIQ.org Link up with us on our Facebook page to stay find out about our latest news. Link up with us on our Twitter page to stay find out about our latest news.