European Turtle Doves on CEMEX quarries


A unique partnership between building materials manufacturer CEMEX and the RSPB to encourage European Turtle Doves to breed at the company's quarries has proven successful, BirdLife International has announced. Three juvenile birds have been observed at CEMEX quarries this year.

European Turtle Dove was uplisted to Vulnerable globally in 2015. The species' population in Britain is halving in number every six years, making it our fastest-declining bird. Knowing that the dove could be lost in Britain in the near future, CEMEX and the RSPB embarked on a three-year conservation project at the company's quarries in central England.

Turtle Dove at Salford Priors Quarry (Photo: Neil Duggan, BirdLife International).

Many factors are likely to be behind the decline; however, the main contributor is thought to be the loss of suitable habitat and associated food shortages in the species' breeding grounds. The projects' four quarries — Norton Subcourse, Norfolk; Hatfield, Hertfordshire; Southam, Warwickshire; and Tattershall, Lincolnshire — offer suitable habitat with dense scrub and water. The task involved growing a special flower mix at the quarries to provide the birds' ideal food, complemented by creation of suitable nesting habitat.

Southam Quarry habitat (Photo: CEMEX).

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Rob Doody, CEMEX UK's Director for Aggregate Operations, 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."

Encouraged by the success of the British project, CEMEX France has launched a pilot site at the Bouafles quarry. Here, actions scheduled to begin in 2016 include maintaining and creating dense hedges using local tree species. In Spain, at the Soto Pajares quarry, SEO is working closely with CEMEX Spain to complete the conservation jigsaw across the birds' westernmost migratory flyway.

"European Turtle Dove is a migratory species, so it is important that its conservation is continued along its flyway," commented Richard Grimmett, Director of Conservation at BirdLife International. "Many CEMEX quarries fall along the species' western European migration corridor and have the potential to support this threatened bird."

Written by: RSPB