Its Operation Turtle Dove as CEMEX UK and RSPB work together to reverse the decline of this bird

Its Operation Turtle Dove as CEMEX UK and RSPB work together to reverse the decline of this bird

September 19, 2014

CEMEX UK and RSPB (Royal Society for the protection of birds) are working together on an urgent and important mission to help reverse the fortunes of turtle doves. Together they have begun a three year conservation project at four carefully chosen CEMEX quarries in central England.

Turtle doves are declining at an alarming rate; their UK population is currently halving in number every six years. We have lost a staggering 95% of our turtle dove population since 1970. This UK decline is being paralleled by a 77% decline across Europe since 1980.

Turtle doves are the UK’s only migratory dove. They breed in England and will be undertaking on their 3000 mile journey to spend the winter in sub-Saharan West Africa over the next few weeks. The main contributor for the decline is thought to be the loss of suitable habitat and associated food shortages in their breeding grounds.

Unlike other UK dove species, turtle doves rely upon seeds for food. Changes in farming practices have led to field margins and hedges, once rich with seed-bearing plants, being replaced by commercial crops, offering very few of the small seeds that they need. This is a problem because turtle doves require seeds to feed their nestlings. CEMEX quarries have the potential to support this threatened bird.

The quarries, Norton Subcourse (Norfolk); Hatfield (Hertfordshire); Southam (Warwickshire) and Tattershall (Lincolnshire), offer a suitable habitat with dense scrub and water.  The project involves growing a special flower mix to provide the bird’s ideal food complemented by the nesting habitat.

The seed mix being sown on CEMEX quarries will provide flowering plants that produce seed by early May, around the time that the doves arrive from their winter homes and are in need of plentiful food to bring them into breeding condition.

Volunteers will record turtle dove numbers in early summer at the four quarries sown with the enhanced seed mix. Five other sites without the seed mix will also be monitored for comparison.

The CEMEX and RSPB project forms part of the partnership Operation Turtle Dove and will link with similar projects that BirdLife International is co-ordinating along the migration path across

France and Spain. Operation Turtle Dove is a partnership between the RSPB, Conservation Grade, Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, and Natural England.

Rob Doody, CEMEX’s Director for Aggregate Operations, CEMEX UK said “This project is so important in saving this iconic bird.  It highlights the positive impact that we can make on the natural world. The balance between the natural and built environment is a delicate one which must be preserved not only for nature but future generations.

“After all what would the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ be without 2 Turtle Doves!”


Notes to editors:

  • For further information on CEMEXUK contact Elizabeth Young; email: t: 01932 58321401932 58321401932 58321401932 583214 Follow us on Twitter @cemex_uk
  • Operation Turtle Dove is a partnership conservation project between the RSPB, Conservation Grade, Natural England and Pensthorpe Conservation Trust and was launched in Spring 2012. The partnership aims to identify the primary causes of the turtle dove decline and develop and deploy urgent practical solutions. For more information:
  • Helping to build a Great Britain – CEMEX’s vision is to help build a greater Britain by providing solutions to construction problems through our innovative building materials, our expertise, our understanding of the construction issues and our people.We aim to create the best service and the best solutions for a better future.
  • About CEMEX: CEMEX is a global manufacturer of building materials and the biggest Mexican investor in the UK, with 3,000 people employed across 450 sites nationwide. In this country, we are a leading provider of aggregates, cement, ready-mixed concrete and rail sleepers with annual sales of around £1 billion.