Skip to main content
20 Oct 2021

50 years of nature recovery through quarry restoration

The incredible array of wildlife that has made its home in restored quarries is showcased in the MPA’s new anniversary publication Quarries & Nature – a 50 year success story.

Many of the stunning images in the new book have been drawn from the hundreds of entries into the MPA’s Nature Photo Competition over recent years from employees of quarrying companies and volunteers at restored sites managed by partner organisations such as the RSPB and Wildlife Trusts.

Publication of the Quarries & Nature brochure follows the premiere of a special 50th anniversary documentary film which celebrates the vast and unique contribution of restored quarries to UK nature over the past 50 years. In the film, leading conservationists from Natural England, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts and other organisations recognise quarrying’s critical role in nature recovery in the past half-century.

Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England, said: “We have many good examples across the country of really beneficial outcomes for nature that resulted from minerals extraction. The MPA’s biodiversity awards have been really important in inspiring people to see some of the possibilities at hand and setting out those examples of best practice. With a little bit of imagination and forethought, we can actually achieve a great deal for nature as well as extracting the resources we need for different kinds of developments.”

Beccy Speight, Chief Executive of RSPB, said: “Restored quarries are incredibly important for bird life, because they give us a kind of blank canvas to create new habitats for species which are really struggling. They form part of a joined-up network of habitat in the wider landscape so that species can be more resilient to the challenges they face. Partnership is key and one of the things I love about quarry restoration is that it’s nature organisations, planning authorities, quarrying companies and local communities all working together to create new habitats.”

Craig Bennett, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Let’s celebrate the partnership between The Wildlife Trusts and members of the Mineral Products Association over many years, which has been of huge benefit to wildlife. We need to not only put nature into recovery – but also the relationship between people and nature into recovery. My message to members of the MPA is that partnership working, including with Wildlife Trusts, will become increasingly important and if we can do that right we can achieve some really good outcomes for people and for the environment.”

Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive of MPA, said: “The quarrying industry has done more than any other sector to support habitat creation and nature recovery, with more than 83 sq km of priority habitat already created and a further 110 square kilometers in the pipeline. That includes the creation of new wetlands, grasslands, heathlands and woodlands proven to support some of the UK’s most vulnerable species. I am proud of what the industry achieves, not just providing essential materials that underpin our economy and way of life, but also going above and beyond to deliver for nature. There is a lot of talk about the problems and what needs to happen – meanwhile we have been actively delivering solutions over decades.”

Mark Russell, Executive Director of MPA, said: “The vital role quarries play in nature conservation is one of the industry’s best kept secrets. Maybe that’s because by the time a well-restored quarry scheme has come to fruition, most people have forgotten that the site once provided the essential materials for the places where they live, work and play.”

“In England alone there are over 2,000 quarries, covering 64,000 hectares (0.1% of the country's land area) all of which will be eventually restored. Through careful planning, imaginative design and innovative engineering, each site is an opportunity to create a new landscape where rare and endangered species can thrive.”

“No other industry comes close to being able to achieve this – indeed, the mineral products sector was restoring land to enhance nature decades before the term ‘biodiversity net gain’ was coined. No surprise then that the MPA was the first trade association to publish a biodiversity strategy more than a decade ago.”

Today more than 80 restored quarries make up the MPA’s virtual National Nature Park which also features visitor centres, nature trails and educational facilities. Restoration work has also nurtured long-standing partnerships with numerous conservation organisations, many of whom take over the running of restored sites for all to enjoy.

MPA has thanked all those who submitted photos for the fourth biennial photo competition – which celebrates the creation of amazing spaces for nature - and has extended special congratulations to the winners:

EMPLOYEES (of MPA member companies)

1st prize - David Soons, Production Operative, Aggregate Industries
Common Tern, Cotswold Water Park, Gloucestershire
2nd prize - Jeremy West, Assistant Quarry Manager, Tarmac
Peregrine Falcon, Undisclosed Location, North Yorkshire
3rd prize (joint) -  Alan Bland, Quarry Supervisor, Sibelco
Roe Deer, Grandcourt Farm Quarry, Norfolk
3rd prize (joint) - Ian Rumbellow, Site Manager, Tarmac
Southern Migrant Hawker Dragonfly, Gallows Hill Quarry, Suffolk


VOLUNTEERS (for conservation organisations on restored quarries)

1st prize - Roy McDonald, Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife
Trust Feeding Swallows, College Lake Nature Reserve, Buckinghamshire
2nd prize - John J Kaczanow, Devon Wildlife Trust
Wren Feeding Young, Sourton Quarry Nature Reserve, Devon
3rd prize - George Walthew, Kings Dyke Nature Reserve
Otter, Kings Dyke Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire


Vouchers for photographic equipment were awarded to first, second and third placed winners. Images will also be included in the MPA Quarries & Nature calendar for 2022.


Images: All photos are available at high-resolution with caption and credit on request.

About the Mineral Products Association:

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) is the trade association for the aggregates, asphalt, cement, concrete, dimension stone, lime, mortar and silica sand industries. With the merger of British Precast, and affiliation of the British Association of Reinforcement (BAR), Eurobitume, MPA Northern Ireland, MPA Scotland and the British Calcium Carbonate Federation, it has a growing membership of 520 companies and is the sectoral voice for mineral products. MPA membership is made up of the vast majority of independent SME quarrying companies throughout the UK, as well as the 9 major international and global companies. It covers 100% of UK cement and lime production, 90% of GB aggregates production, 95% of asphalt and over 70% of ready-mixed concrete and precast concrete production. In 2018, the industry supplied £16 billion worth of materials and services to the Economy. It is also the largest supplier to the construction industry, which had annual output valued at £172 billion in 2018. Industry production represents the largest materials flow in the UK economy and is also one of the largest manufacturing sectors.

For media enquiries, contact Elizabeth Clements at: ; tel: 07775 894 285