Restoration of 50 former quarry sites creates 1,000ha of land for nature

Gareth Brede

Wednesday 25 October 2017

  • Working in partnership CEMEX and the RSPB have transformed 1,000 hectares of former quarry site into grassland, woodland, heathland and more to provide much needed habitat for some of the UK’s most threatened species
  • Originally planned to take a decade the partnership has achieved its target in just eight years, with sites already providing homes to almost 50 species of birds that conservationists have identified as at risk of being lost in the UK
  • In addition to providing urgently needed new habitat for threatened species the former quarry sites are also attracting nature lovers and conservationists, with over 750,000 visitors enjoying the sites that are already open to the public

This month the restoration of Hopwas Quarry near Tamworth marks the completion of an ambitious project to create 1,000 hectares of land for wildlife from former quarry sites.

In 2010 building materials company CEMEX and the UK’s largest conservation charity, the RSPB, made a commitment to create 1,000 hectares of priority habitats within a decade. A combined area of land over twice as big as the 2012 Olympic Park in London.

As a priority habitat special attention was paid to restoring the land in such a way that would make it appealing and suitable for some of the UK’s most threatened species. The restoration has included 50 sites across England, Scotland and Wales and has created a diverse range of much needed habitats to encourage nature to return. 

1,000 hectares, has resulted in a diverse range of habitats including nearly 600 hectares of grasslands, over 177 hectares of woodland, 100 hectares of heathland and 190 hectares of ponds and open water.

The work of specialists at the RSPB and CEMEX has successfully transformed these sites, which are already providing homes for 46 threatened species of bird, including twites, choughs and turtle doves. The sites area also creating homes for other rare species such as otters, red squirrels and water voles along with plants, amphibians and more.  

And as each site matures it will act as an important haven for more species. In addition to welcoming threatened species the land restored by the partnership has attracted over 750,000 visitors to different sites. Highlighting the importance of the restoration in creating spaces for nature that also provide opportunities for local communities to discover nature on their doorstep.

Martin Harper, the RSPB’s director of conservation said: “Nature is in trouble and but by restoring or creating habitats we can often reverse the population declinesof threatened species while keeping common species common. We all have a role to play in rising to this challenge: government, business and civil society. In 2010 the RSPB and CEMEX set an ambitious goal of restoring 1,000 hectares of land over a decade and in less than eight years we have met that target.

“Working in partnership with CEMEX we have shown how land can be transformed from being an active quarry into a vibrant home for wildlife and we hope that our experience inspires others to play their part in restoring nature.”

Andy Spencer, Director of Sustainability, CEMEX UK comments:“The partnership with the RSPB has enabled us to enhance the natural environment surrounding our operations. While supplying our customers with concrete, cement, sand and stone we also aim to balance the needs of operations with the protection and enhancement of the natural world. The RSPB has been pivotal in helping us to achieve this aim. 

“The 1000th hectare that has just been created is a significant and outstanding milestone and our partnership to date has helped create some amazing places for communities and nature,” he concludes.

The first hectare to benefit from the partnership in 2010 was Eversley Quarry in Hampshire where, over the years, a mosaic of different habitats has been created alongside community sports facilities. 

And work is now underway on the 1,000th hectare at Hopwas quarry, an exhausted sand and gravel quarry. Heather cuttings containing seeds and other flora from the neighbouring Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) has been spread over part of the land to encourage and help create new heathland, typical of the surrounding area. 

A film tracking the progress from the first hectare to this latest transformation is available online:

For more information about the RSPB’s partnership with CEMEX please visit:



For further information and to arrange an interview, please contact:

Gareth Brede, RSPB senior media officer: 01767 693221 / 

Last Updated: Tuesday 28 August 2018

Tagged with: Country: UK Topic: Birds and wildlife Topic: Conservation Topic: People Topic: Site conservation Topic: Species conservation