As biodiversity continues to decline, the role of high-value nature conservation areas in supporting populations increases. The rural nature of our operations and the shared geological importance often means that our sites are geographically located close to such high value areas. In many cases the high value areas have become recognised and subsequently designated after our operations began, resulting in a shared boundary. The consequences of this close proximity could result in our operations having potential negative impacts on the features of specific interest and protected/rare species may migrate on to our sites during the active phase.
Therefore, potential risks to both nature and our continued working could arise. Nevertheless, there can also be an opportunity arising where our sites, when properly managed, can have a positive impact on the abundance and diversity of species in the local area. To manage these risks and opportunities, it is important for us to initially identify which of our sites fall into this category, and then ensure that our interactions with nature at these sites are managed in a sensitive way.
To this end, every five years a proximity study is undertaken by BirdLife International, as part of our global partnership. When the partnership began in 2011 this was regionally focused, but in 2017 the analysis was undertaken at a global level. During these studies our sites are mapped against protected areas (as defined below) and internationally recognised Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs).
- Protected areas designated officially by national nature protection legislation
- Protected areas designated under regional conventions and agreements
- Protected areas designated under international conventions and agreements including Ramsar (wetlands) and World Heritage (natural/mixed) and the UN’s Man and the Biosphere Programme
During the 2017 proximity study, 1,144 Heidelberg Materials sites were analysed in order to understand their high biodiversity potential, as determined by their geographical proximity to high biodiversity value areas. The number of sites that were found to be within close proximity are displayed below by region.
Under Heidelberg Materials’ 2030 sustainability commitments, the company has a corporate goal to have biodiversity management plans implemented at all sites highlighted under this proximity study, by 2030.
We constantly monitor our progress towards this 100% target and annually report current figures within our Sustainability Report. As of the end 2019, we were at 47% complete for deposits associated with our cement plants, and at 49% for our aggregate sites. Roadmaps are now being developed at the country level to ensure that we reach our target of 100% by 2030.
Despite this prioritisation of an important subset of our sites, we also recognise that biodiversity management plans are an important tool in managing nature in all our quarries. Hence, several countries have implemented their own national targets of 100% of sites having such plans.