The “Second Day of Christmas” Brings Turtle Doves to CEMEX Quarries in the UK! - The “Second Day of Christmas” Brings Turtle Doves to CEMEX Quarries in the UK!
The “Second Day of Christmas” Brings Turtle Doves to CEMEX Quarries in the UK!
December 22, 2015
The second day of Christmas is December 26, when, as most carolers know, a true love will give the gift of two turtle doves. This year, a joint effort in the UK between CEMEX and BirdLife International has achieved better - three juvenile turtle doves have been observed at a CEMEX quarry in the UK!
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN 2015) contained the sad but unsurprising news that the European turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur) has been uplisted to “Vulnerable,” meaning it faces a high risk of extinction in the medium-term future. Since the main contributor for the decline of the turtle dove population is thought to be the loss of suitable habitat as well as associated food shortages in their breeding grounds, in 2014 CEMEX and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB, the UK partner of BirdLife International) embarked on a 3-year pilot conservation project at nine CEMEX quarries in central England.
Now in our second year of the conservation project, CEMEX staff along with local volunteers survey a total of 10 CEMEX quarries twice each breeding season, four of which have been sowed with a special seed mix - the birds’ ideal food. Turtle doves have since been found at two of our participating quarries, including three juveniles, so it is very likely that they were born on a CEMEX quarry this year. With support of RSPB’s conservation scientists, the intervention will be assessed to determine effectiveness.
“The turtle dove is a migratory species, so it is important that its conservation is continued along its flyway”, said Richard Grimmett, Director of Conservation at BirdLife International, adding that some “CEMEX quarries fall along the turtle dove's western European migration corridor and have the potential to support this threatened bird."
Encouraged by the success so far, we have looked beyond the UK and launched a pilot site on our Bouafles quarry in France where multiple actions are scheduled to begin in 2016. The CEMEX team in France expects to create and maintain dense hedges, devote entire plots for cultivation favorable to the turtle dove, and fence off certain areas previously accessible to the public so that the birds are not disturbed during the breeding season. We intend to further these actions in Spain, at the Biodiversity Action Plan pilot site at Soto Pajares, where the Sociedad Española de Ornitología (BirdLife International’s partner in Spain) is working closely with CEMEX on yet another point of the birds’ western-most migratory flyway.
CEMEX site locations in the UK (red), France (Blue) and Spain (green). Approximate turtle dove distribution is indicated in pink. The green line is roughly where the turtle dove flyway is thought to be. Figure for illustrative purposes only
According to Grimmett, “this is the first project of its kind, working to save a globally threatened species on quarry operations across borders through multiple local collaborations.” Should these unique initiatives prove successful, they could potentially be used as a best practice through multiple locations.
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