The Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) has published new guidelines aimed at further improving the biodiversity performance of the industry’s quarries. The guidelines support the association’s Sustainability Charter implementation and represent a collaborative effort by member companies to improve overall performance in biodiversity management and quarry rehabilitation.
Member companies can use the guidelines to implement agreed good practices as well as a framework for reporting progress against Key Performance Indictors (KPIs), GCCA said.
The Guidelines for quarry rehabilitation and biodiversity management are part of a package of guidelines developed to support compliance with the GCCA Sustainability Charter.
The GCCA Sustainability Charter has identified five key pillars, which encompass the sustainability spectrum of the cement and concrete sector, and has set out requirements for full members against each of these:
- Health & Safety.
- Climate Change & Energy.
- Social Responsibility.
- Environment & Nature.
- Circular Economy.
The cement and aggregates industries both depend and have an impact upon biodiversity and ecosystem services. The first step in cement and aggregates production – the extraction of raw materials from the earth’s crust – inevitably has an impact on the surrounding natural and social environment. In particular, the removal of soil and changes in topography of the area are likely to affect local ecosystems and watersheds.
Minimizing environmental impact is therefore a fundamental requirement for the sustainable operation in the cement sector. Impacts can be successfully addressed and mitigated through the development and implementation of an effective quarry rehabilitation plan and a Biodiversity Management Plan, especially in areas of high biodiversity.
Minimizing the impact of extraction activity is an important priority for the cement and concrete industry globally. Creating new habitats through rehabilitation and mitigation is already established practice in many countries, and the GCCA’s new guidelines will help to support the wider adoption of these practices across the sector.
Benjamin Sporton, GCCA chief executive, said: “These new guidelines are an important example of the ongoing collaborative work being undertaken by GCCA members to bring about improvements in performance across our industry. Biodiversity is just one area where collaboration and the sharing of good practice can bring about very positive outcomes for stakeholders including the local communities where our members operate.”
Among the priority areas covered by the new guidelines are the inclusion of social, economic and environmental considerations for the future use of the sites once extraction activity ceases as well as relevant legislative requirements. The guidelines also advocate for the application of progressive rehabilitation where possible as good practice during the lifetime of a quarry. Stakeholder involvement and consultation is also recommended at all stages, as is the practice of ensuring rehabilitation and biodiversity plans are in place before the commencement of extraction activities at new sites.
In addition to the new guidelines, the GCCA has also joined “Business for Nature,” a global coalition bringing together influential organizations and forward-thinking businesses with the aim of demonstrating action to reverse nature loss.
Eva Zabey, executive director of Business for Nature, said, “We are delighted to be able to welcome GCCA to Business for Nature. Now more than ever, the business community has its part to play and is uniting behind and calling on governments to protect ecosystems. We are looking forward to working with GCCA to further incorporate nature into the heart of mainstream business, finance and government decision-making.”
“We are excited to be joining Business for Nature and are looking forward to working with them and their partner organizations across the business community. We believe our sector has a strong and positive story to tell and we very much share the objectives on the prevention of nature loss and the vital role of protecting and enhancing biodiversity,” remarked Sporton.
The United Nations has declared 2020 as a super year for nature and biodiversity “to help achieve human well-being, tackle climate change and protect our living planet.”