In 2007 Holcim New Zealand's cement quarry at Westport won a national Environmental Excellence Award for quarry rehabilitation.
The Cape Foulwind Quarry, which supplies limestone to our Westport cement plant has been in operation for nearly 50 years. As part of its long-term commitment, Holcim New Zealand plans to have the land surrounding the quarry fully restored to a maturing native forest by 2040. This rehabilitation project has been ongoing for more than 20 years and our efforts were acknowledged with the 2007 MIMICO Environmental Excellence Award.
The overall goal of the restoration management program at Cape Foulwind is to restore a mosaic of indigenous forest and wetland communities to that which would have existed prior to human (principally European) arrival. The program is based on four key guiding principles:
- mimicking natural forest regeneration
- minimal direct human contact
- rehabilitation concurrent with quarrying operations
- managing costs.
The rehabilitation consists of an indigenous forest, a lake and adjacent wetlands, and has involved many Holcim staff, the local community and the Department of Conservation.
The most ecologically sensitive of the four zones to be restored is the coastal restoration zone adjacent to the endangered New Zealand fur seal and little blue penguin colonies. Holcim New Zealand is an active sponsor of both the penguin and seal colonies, as these are an important part of the area's ecosystem.
The ambitious restoration plan began in the 1980s, with work to mitigate the visual impact and negative environmental effects of quarry operations, conducted in accordance with Holcim Group guidelines for quarry rehabilitation. The plan required establishing a nursery at the site to raise indigenous species in local conditions, which now supplies Holcim with 50,000 plants a year on contract, as well as some for general sale.
The rehabilitation requires a lot of work to get it to a stage where it will look after itself. Regular monitoring of water and soil composition is needed to ensure land contours are correct for water runoff. Holcim New Zealand also works closely with several farmers who operate around the quarry boundaries, as they are part of this integral rehabilitation programme.
The project had scientific input from the School of Forestry at Canterbury University from an early stage, and Holcim New Zealand also provided a grant to the university for ongoing programme monitoring.