There are over 2000 active mines and quarries located in the UK providing a variety of minerals, coal, and building stone to be used in the developing human world. The quarries often overlap with or fragment wildlife habitats. This blog post will be investigating the benefits of working with ecologists so as to get the most out of British industry as well as assisting the continued survival of British Wildlife species that live in and around these quarries.
Ecology of Quarries
Quarrying, despite being economically beneficial to the UK, has affected the nearby vegetation and habitat of various species. It has destroyed irreplaceable plant communities as well as had a negative effect on the surrounding vegetation. Despite this impact, many quarries give back to the environment and are highly valued in their contribution towards conservation.
The majority of quarries contain rocky habitats and have shallow soils which are often infertile due to lack of nutrients, drought and corrosion. Soil acidity is also common thus plants that occur on quarries are often those not associated with agriculture, but those suitably adapted to an infertile environment.
Data collated by other scientists have found, from surveying these important habitats, that quarries with calcareous soil are moderately species rich – due to the occurrence of forbs (an herbaceous flowering plant) rather than grasses, legumes and annals. Shrubs are not often present. In comparison quarries with more acidic soil have even fewer species, no legumes or annuals but heather Calluna,) a low growing shrub is found thriving there.
Working quarries despite being inhospitable to some species of fauna and flora are actually havens to others. It has created a special ecological niche that only a few species can fill. For example, species that have thrived in this habitat are the sand martin, bee eaters, eagle owl, peregrine falcon, the protected natter-jack toad, the yellow-bellied toad and plant species such as rare orchids. All of these species in the UK are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) meaning that it is against the law to tamper, disturb or kill any of these species. If the quarry workers come across any of these protected species, such as the sand martin (which is well known to inhabit sand quarries), whilst they are nesting they must postpone work being conducted to that area until their nesting is complete and they have raised their offspring.
Benefits of Ecological Consultancies
Before an area is cleared for quarrying it is important that an ecological consultant is there to assess for the environmental impact that the quarry will have on the area. By doing this it also means that planning can be put in place to preserve the remaining habitat and create new habitats around the edges of the quarry as a form of compensation. The quarry is created but the impact it has on the area is minimised as much as possible benefiting both the client and the wildlife.
It is also important to know that ecologists will be there to survey or assist the site in the future, so if there are any wildlife and people conflicts or if an animal has taken residence in a potentially harmful area to the workers then an ecologist is on call to give advice and assist when required.
The most important factors are to allow the wildlife to thrive in the area and to enable the smooth and safe running of the quarries that they inhabit.
How Acer Ecology Can Help You
At Acer Ecology we can not only provide you with ecological advice and expertise but also demonstrate how important your work is to us. Quarries give back almost as much as they take from the environment and nearly all of them when unused are taken over by wildlife. We would like to be there to assist the whole process, the start, middle and end of the life of a quarry. Only we can give you both the customer satisfaction of having your thoughts, ideas and future plans have been listened to. Our client’s happiness and wildlife preservation is our number one priority!