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Minister helps celebrate rare species at former quarries

Mineral industry’s key role in conservation and biodiversity highlighted at House of Commons reception

SOME the country’s rarest birds, butterflies and wild flowers are reclaiming former quarries, wildlife surveys have revealed.

In 2010, surveys recorded species including bitterns – once extinct in the UK – as well as threatened birds of prey and wading birds, rare native orchids, smooth snakes and sand lizards, and a host of priority moth and butterfly species.

Attending a House of Commons reception earlier this week, Environment Minister Richard Benyon highlighted the vital work of the minerals industry and conservationists who have worked together to reclaim former quarries for nature across the country.

The Nature After Minerals project, run by the RSPB and Natural England, with support from the Minerals Products Association (MPA), is a key scheme that helps restore spent quarries to vital wildlife habitats including reed beds, lagoons, heathland and wildflower meadows.

Recent wildlife surveys have recorded many rare species at former quarries. For example, the Langford Lowfields nature reserve, near Nottingham, is a sand and gravel site which now boasts breeding marsh harriers and bitterns in its fully restored reed beds. Nationally scarce moths have also recently been discovered at the site.

Meanwhile, sites in the traditional sand production area around Wareham in Dorset are home to all six of the UK’s native reptiles including sand lizards and smooth snakes as well as a rare species of burrowing bee.

Jerry McLaughlin, speaking on behalf of the MPA, said: ‘Our members have produced a legacy of sites of significant value for nature conservation and biodiversity over many years and are in a unique position to help achieve national biodiversity objectives, working in partnership with local communities and conservation organizations.’

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