Blackwater Valley
Blackwater Valley

Blackwater Valley

CEMEX UK and community volunteers create wildlife haven


In 1993, CEMEX UK restored former gravel pits in the Blackwater Valley in Berkshire to create the Moor Green Lakes Nature Reserve. Since then, our employees and community volunteers have worked together to maintain the site.
CEMEX UK employees volunteering at the reserve and some Little Ringed Plovers, which breed on the site (Photo credit: R Murfitt).


Rare species found at Moor Green Lakes Nature Reserve:

 

  • Goosander
  • Little ringed plovers
  • Soprano pipistrelle bats

Background
CEMEX relies on raw materials such as gravel and sand to make its cement and concrete products. These are essential for building the roads, schools and homes that society needs, but quarrying the materials has the potential to degrade habitats and damage species unless the land is carefully managed. We are determined to have a positive impact on nature by promoting a diverse range of habitats and species while quarries are active, and by rehabilitating disused sites. By restoring former quarry sites we also provide communities with new nature reserves and education and leisure facilities.

CEMEX UK extracted sand and gravel for building materials from the Blackwater Valley in Berkshire between 1983 and 1988. When quarrying ended we transformed the old gravel pits into the Moor Green Lakes Nature Reserve, which opened in 1993. The reserve is now an important site for breeding birds, rare plants and insects.

Actions
After completing restoration work to create two lakes from former gravel pits, in 1993 we set up a steering group to manage the site. This includes representatives from CEMEX UK, Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership, Wokingham Borough Council and the Moor Green Lakes Group of local conservation volunteers.

The Moor Green Lakes Group manages the site. Its volunteers form conservation working parties and CEMEX employees sometimes join them to help. The group monitors and records wildlife at the site and communicates the progress of conservation work with to its members. Group membership is open to anyone interested in wildlife for a small subscription fee, and CEMEX UK provides further financial support to the group.

To create the reserve, we fringed the lakes with willow, ash, hazel, maple and scrub to attract a variety of animals. Grassland at the northern and western edges of the reserve hosts native meadow plants, and visitors can watch wildlife from two hides overlooking the lakes. We installed 50 nesting boxes on the trees along the paths for bats and birds. Two sluices between the lakes and the nearby River Blackwater naturally control water levels. This exposes muddy banks in spring and autumn - an ideal habitat for wading birds.

Outcomes
The reserve's meadows, hedgerows, lakes and islands attract lots of wildlife - as many as 140 bird species visit the reserve every year. A flock of 100 goosander birds roost at the site and it's an annual breeding ground for many terns in spring and summer. The latest bat survey recorded five species and over 29 types of butterfly have been found on the reserve in the last 12 years. The lakes and adjacent river also support large numbers of dragonflies and damselflies.

Biodiversity Strategy
With help from experts at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), we have developed an ambitious ten-year biodiversity strategy. This sets challenging targets, including our goal to create and maintain, by 2020, 1,000 hectares of habitats identified by the UK Government as conservation priorities.

Future Plans
CEMEX UK will continue to support the Moor Green Lakes Group of volunteers. Membership of the group gives unlimited access to the hides and an annual update on the progress of conservation work. Anyone can join the group and help with conservation work throughout the year.

 

For more information please contact us or visit the MGLG website here.

To download the case study, please click here.

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