Lafarge Tarmac's Ibsley Quarry near Ringwood in Hampshire produced more than two million tonnes of sand and gravel between 1991 and 2008. Ibsley is not just a superb restoration in its own right but part of a much acclaimed wider network along the Avon valley north of Ringwood. The restoration of Ibsley links with the adjoining restoration of Blashford lakes, a series of former gravel pits, which together provide landscape scale habitats in an area dominated by national and European conservation design actions including SSSIs, SPA, SAC, and Ramsar.
Since active working, the 36-hectare site, located on the edge of the New Forest, has been restored to a mix of open water conservation lakes, wetland and grassland. Innovative and practical techniques have been deployed to control water levels, establish the species rich grassland and reedbeds and control invasive weeds. The way the site fits into the wider strategies for the area in terms of landscape, ecology, biodiversity, access and restoration is particularly significant.
The site is popular with wildfowl and breeding waders – and with those who love to observe them. Great effort has been expended in making the site accessible for bird watchers, including the provision of three bird hides adjacent to the public footpaths. Amongst the site’s accolades was an award from the British Trust for Ornithology for attracting birds. Furthermore, the site has also been able to contribute to the recreation and access of the area by proving a well-used and popular link for the Avon Valley footpath which runs through the centre of the site.
The Ibsley site is a triumph not just for the company, but for its employees and members of the community who have all contributed to the cause with enthusiasm.