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Managing biodiversity: Our Partnership with BirdLife International


Our Partnership with BirdLife International

The presence of diverse and abundant birdlife is one of the most visible signs of a healthy ecosystem

Biodiversity is the Earth’s natural wealth. The planet’s rich tapestry of plant and animal life provides us with food, fuel, medicines and other essential natural resources. Ecological systems made up of a myriad species clean our water, purify our air and restore soil to productivity.

Recognizing the vital importance of biodiversity to all life, including human life, the United Nations designated 2010 as the international year of biodiversity. More than simply celebrating biodiversity, this designation draws attention to the impacts of human activity on plant and animal life and how, in recent decades, many habitats have been increasingly degraded and destroyed.

At CEMEX, we take seriously our responsibility to preserve existing habitats and restore degraded ones. A key partner in these efforts is BirdLife International, the largest global partnership of local conservation organizations, active in more than 120 countries, and the leading authority on the status and conservation of birds and their habitats. In December 2007, we signed a 10-year global agreement with BirdLife. As part of this collaboration, we are working to refine biodiversity-related strategies, policies, and practices and are also advising on how to implement conservation projects at operational sites. The relationship helps raise awareness among our employees and local communities about the importance of biodiversity. It also strengthens the links between our operations and the national BirdLife partner organizations, as in France with the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux and in the UK with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

As a first step in assessing our biodiversity risks and opportunities, together with BirdLife we conducted a Biodiversity Scoping Study that mapped all of our quarry sites worldwide and their proximity to key biodiversity areas. The resulting maps and databases will help operational managers to understand potential site impacts on biodiversity. Following the initial mapping, we have identified high-priority sites based on their biological importance and on opportunities for improvement in their management practices. We are now developing plans to ensure an appropriate level of biodiversity management and oversight at these sites.


"The Biodiversity Scoping Study is a great example of constructive collaboration between business and a conservation NGO. It will help to guide and inform conservation interventions across CEMEX’s operations, starting with the most important and sensitive sites, as well as forming the basis for promoting more widely the sustainable use of natural resources and strengthening our relationship still further."

– Marco Lambertini, Chief Executive, BirdLife International


In addition to those associated with BirdLife International, we engage in a number of activities around the world to support biodiversity and the preservation of bird and other wildlife habitats, including the following:

Bird-Watching Tower Opens in Latvia

Birdlife

One of the best places to observe birds in Latvia is Lake Kaņiera in Ķemeri National park. More than 200 bird species can be seen at the lake. Unfortunately, bird watchers in the past were often unable to secure an unobstructed view, due to the fact that the lake is heavily overgrown with reeds and other plants.

Working in partnership with the Latvian Ornithological Society (a member of BirdLife International) and Ķemeri National Park, CEMEX Latvia sponsored the construction of a bird-watching tower on the shores of Lake Kaņiera. With the opening of the tower on October 3, 2009, bird watchers now have access to a full view of the entire lake and the bird species living therein.

In the future, CEMEX Latvia will continue to collaborate with the Latvian Ornithological Society to promote additional bird conservation activities.

Ireland’s East Coast Nature Preserve benefits from CEMEX support

Ireland’s East Coast Nature Reserve at Blackditch Wood, Newcastle, County Wicklow, provides a key habitat for wetland plants and birds. The reserve constitutes one of the remaining fragments of the country’s once-abundant wetlands. The reserve’s grasslands and pools provide crucial nesting and feeding areas for birds.

CEMEX Ireland provides support to BirdWatch Ireland for the continued operation of the reserve, which is part of the European Natura 2000 network of protected areas. CEMEX’s contributions reflect the company’s efforts to help preserve key habitats in order to secure a rich legacy of biodiversity for future generations to enjoy.

Quarries Form Ideal Habitats in Germany

At first glance, a working quarry may not seem to be an ideal habitat for many living creatures. The eagle owl, however, has found a comfortable home in CEMEX’s Helmstadt quarry in Germany. The shell limestone wall of the quarry provides these birds with nesting habitat and shelter to live and raise their chicks.

CEMEX has taken several actions to preserve the living environment of the eagle owl. In cooperation with NABU (the German Society for Bird Conservation, which is the German branch of BirdLife International), CEMEX has published a brochure to inform quarry operators how to protect the eagle owl habitat. The current plan for quarry expansion also includes a restoration plan that specifically addresses eagle owl habitat preservation.

At the "Leese" gravel pit in Germany, CEMEX’s efforts in bank improvement and cultivation have transformed the former quarrying area into habitat attractive to more than 90 bird species, 22 of which are registered on the German Red List of endangered species. This extraordinary level of biodiversity led to the declaration of the entire quarrying area as a natural reserve as well as a European Special Area of Conservation.

Biodiversity Database Raises Awareness in Costa Rican Community

CEMEX’s Colorado site, located in northwestern Costa Rica, is within 20 kilometers of 11 different protected areas. The site—which comprises a 20-hectare limestone quarry, a 70-hectare clay quarry, and a cement plant—is populated by a number of birds, mammals, and plants listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species.

In January 2008, CEMEX, BirdLife International, and local stakeholders designed a biodiversity action plan to conserve local biodiversity, raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity within surrounding communities, and implement a sustainable conservation model that provides regular funding for local conservation work.

As part of the plan, CEMEX undertook the development of a biodiversity database in collaboration with the Area de Conservaciόn Arenal-Tempisque (ACAT). The database includes taxonomic descriptions, species prioritization in order of conservation importance, photographs, and sound records. The database now features more than 800 species of plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects and is used to help develop learning materials for distribution to primary schools and villages in the surrounding areas.

Last Update: April 2010

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