Skip to main content

Quarries & Nature

Uniquely placed to benefit nature

The mineral products industry has a long legacy of high-quality restoration and is uniquely placed to protect and enhance UK biodiversity, including rare and threatened species. High standards of site management coupled with imaginative restoration and after-use strategies will contribute significantly to the achievement of the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

  • To date MPA Members have recorded the creation of over 8,300ha (83km2) of priority habitat and have a further 11,000ha (110km2) planned.
  • Many of the sites that MPA members have created and continue to manage sites are national nature reserves, local nature reserves, and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
  • MPA members manage or control and area of land totalling over 247 square miles – equivalent to a National Park larger than of the size of the New Forest.
  • The industry has the potential to make a substantial contribution to the re-creation and expansion of most UK Priority Habitats.

The MPA aims to protect and enhance biodiversity and deliver net gain wherever possible. The MPA Biodiversity Strategy seeks to realise this potential. It is built around an action plan that includes extending our knowledge of how best to manage the potential, sharing best practice amongst members, developing partnerships with conservation organisations, and running a Biodiversity awards scheme for our members.  We will also set out to understand how we can contribute to local biodiversity targets, increase our influence with policy makers and promote biodiversity education.

MPA’s National Nature Park

Nature conservation and the development of public spaces are high on the industry’s agenda. MPA has devised an interactive map which highlights MPA’s National Nature Park - former quarries and other former industrial locations returned to nature and with public access, which are now considered of special interest to nature conservationists and members of the public.

More information on MPA's National Nature Park.

Biodiversity (Net) Gain

MPA is engaging with Natural England and Defra (and others) on the approach to biodiversity net gain and the ‘metric’ to measure this. The approach and metric were developed primarily for housing and infrastructure, and we are engaged with Natural England and Defra to ensure that this will also reflect and work for minerals extraction, recognising:

  • Minerals can only be worked where they naturally occur;
  • The scale of sites and operation (earth moving equipment) means there is routinely potential and actual delivery of large-scale biodiversity net gain on site (during but particularly following extraction and subsequent restoration);
  • Minerals extraction is temporary, with restoration including to biodiversity after-use being progressively delivered throughout the operation of a site, typically 10-25 year for sand & gravel, longer for hard rock;
  • Habitat creation on restored minerals sites could be used as an offset for other developments, but this needs to be factored in at the planning application (& restoration plan) stage to ensure ‘additionality’;
  • The specific mineral planning process and system, administered by Mineral Planning Authorities.

Working in partnership

The industry is an enthusiastic supporter of the Nature After Minerals (NAM) Programme, led by the RSPB. NAM's mission is to encourage operators to create nature-rich habitats as part of their restoration programmes and to help in spreading best practice.

We are proud to have Memorandums of Understanding with Bumblebee Conservation Trust and the Freshwater Habitats Trust. We are also partners with the Bat Conservation Trust and RSPB.  We will nurture these relationships and develop others, in particular to be a ‘champion’ for species that are threatened and where minerals sites offer opportunities for their conservation.

MPA Restoration & Biodiversity Awards

Every 2 years we hold our Restoration and Biodiversity Awards to showcase best examples of biodiversity enhancement under the categories of ‘Landscape-scale’ (Lawton principles), ‘Innovation’ (specific measures over and above what is required), ‘Planned’ (not yet commenced) and ‘Individual Contribution’. There are short films of the amazing entries and winners to give you a flavour.  

A special film was produced to celebrate 50 years of the awards, which was premiered on 13th October 2021 and can be viewed here.

Quarry Watch

'Quarrywatch' involves undertaking focused wildlife surveys of selected sites over selected days in order to build a much bigger picture of the range of species found on restored or active minerals sites, including rarities and specialists. Outputs include a list of species identified, community engagement, promotion and appreciation of the importance of restored quarries for wildlife. Local wildlife groups, individual enthusiasts and schools may assist in surveying, learning about and appreciating the wildlife that restored quarries host. 

For further reading, here are some articles from ‘Mineral Products Today:’