Key Sustainability Issues

Secil Outão plantThere is growing interest amongst cement producers in various net impact approaches in relation to business and environmental and social issues.

Net impact approaches can be defined as those that “sum, set a target or display information relating to positive and/or negative environmental, social and/or economic effects caused over a period of time”. In this framework, the concept of Net Impact Assessment (NIA) has become increasingly established within the extractive industry, especially with regard to biodiversity.

Biodiversity assessment enables companies involving in extractive operations to measure both their positive and negative impacts and thus progress towards achieving net neutral / no net loss and even net positive impact. It is therefore possible, at least at some sites, to avoid and reduce negative impacts and to increase positive impacts on biodiversity, so that at least no net loss or ideally an overall net positive impact is achieved.

Main steps of the CSI NIA methodology are:
NIA flow chart white background

And the approach covers a number of essential elements:

  • Determine & compare biodiversity value for a certain moment in time against the baseline moment
  • Evaluate habitat types, coverage area & quality (importance and condition)
  • Inputs of historical data, ESIA, surveys, aerial photos, experts (use of “proxy” when info unavailable)
  • Consider negative as well as positive impacts

iStock 17986255 MEDIUMThe purpose of the NIA is to help companies measure their impacts on biodiversity, both positive and negative consistently using a standardized approach, so that appropriate management actions can be developed.

It can serve as an instrument to improve the knowledge of habitats existing at the operation sites over time and thus help to improve the outcomes of applied plans / activities for priority habitats and/or species. At corporate level, the application of a NIA methodology provides the opportunity for a company to show no net loss or net positive impact and finally create a “biodiversity balance sheet” to help internal decision-making and external disclosure.

A few crucial points about applications are highlighted in the document: 

  • Quarries or other operating sites after closure to evaluate rehabilitation results
  • Operating quarries / sites to assess effectiveness of applied rehabilitation and/or biodiversity management
  • Decision at corporate level whether to apply on a single site or across the whole portfolio 
  • Environmental / biodiversity managers responsible at corporate level; or quarry managers at site level
  • Input from local / regional experts recommended
  • Assessment recommended every 3 to 5 years
  • NOT intended to replace wider existing systems (ESIA, EMS, BMP, Rehabilitation Plan); whereas in some cases complementary

The objective for the cement sector overall is to use this approach as a tool for assessing the net impact and communicate the results to civil society and a wider community of interest. 

It is important to note that this NIA approach and methodology links to and is expected to complement existing business decision-making references, relevant to biodiversity, such as the Business and Biodiversity Offsets standards / handbooks and the Natural Capital Protocol.

The CSI "Methodology for the net impact assessment of biodiversity in the cement sector" is expected to be launched in Q2 2018.

The CSI has launched a practical guidance for companies wishing to understand and then follow the steps in developing a Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP).

Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) Guidance

To help demonstrate these steps in practical terms, a range of case studies has been collected to demonstrate how these steps have been implemented in different ways in various parts of the world. Each case study describes the context for the actions, what was actually undertaken, what the outcomes were and what was learnt from the process. The case studies have been categorised according to stages in the BMP process that are described in greater detail in the BMP Guidance and outlined below.

Stage 1: Investigate the existing background data and context (Page 11)

Cemex: Conserving internationally recognised Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas through BMP planning (Malaysia)

Stage 2: Field investigations (Page 13)

Holcim: Field investigations to determine biodiversity priorities and actions (Costa Rica)

Stage 3: Stakeholder engagement (Page 15)

HeidelbergCement: Collaborative wetland management at Kinokamau Lake, Edmonton (Canada)

Lafarge: Restoration of an aquatic fauna corridor on Saint-Etienne River – Pierrefonds Quarry on Réunion Island

Lafarge: Best practice in biodiversity management and stakeholder engagement (Romania)

Votorantim: Environmental education and appreciation – A part of World Environment Day celebrations at Votorantim (Brazil)

Stage 4a: Determining priority species, habitats and ecosystems (Page 17)

HeidelbergCement: Return of the Peregrine (Canada)

Lafarge: Araxos quarry – Development of a scientific project for the conservation of remarkable endemic species (Greece)

InterCement: Controlling Alien Plants - Restoring a Valuable Ecosystem Conservation Area in Oribi – Simuma (South Africa)

Stage 4b: Defining targets and actions (Page 19)

Lafarge: Preservation of the Natterjack Toad in Anneville-Ambourville aggregate storage site, Normandy (France)

Titan: Offset measures to promote and enhance biodiversity (USA) 

InterCement: Rehabilitation of quarrying areas in Atlantic Forest (Brazil)

InterCement: Forestry reorganisation at the Bom Jesus Quarry – A tool for biodiversity (Portugal)

Stage 4c: Monitoring & evaluation (Page 24)

Intercement: Assessing the effects of gypsum quarry effluents in a temporary stream fish assemblage (Portugal)

Italcementi: The floristic diversity in the San Giuseppe di Basovizza quarry, Trieste (Italy)

Lafarge: Preservation of birds and rich pioneer grasslands Gaillon Quarry, Normandy (France)

SECIL: Promoting fauna diversity and abundance: Implementation of Management Actions and Monitoring (Portugal) 

Titan: Assessing biodiversity in old rehabilitated quarry benches (Greece)

Stage 5: Writing the BMP (Page 26)

Lafarge: Writing a BMP: The case of Longué Jumelle (France)

Stage 6: Reviewing, revising and reporting on the BMP (Page 29)

Cemex: A long-standing partnership with the Wildlife Habitat Council yields a comprehensive BMP (USA)

The following are some useful resources built on the list of reference quoted in the CSI Biodiversity Management Planning (BMP) Guidance published in 2014.

BirdLife International, Conservation International (CI), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) & United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) World Conservation Monitoring Centre
The Business & Biodiveristy Research Centre
Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI)
Cemex and BirdLife International
Conservation International (CI)
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
Gardner, J. and P. Mitchell
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
Hanson, C., J. Rangthangan, C. Iceland and J. Finisdore
Holcim-International Union for Conserviation of Nature (IUCN)
International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM)
International Finance Corporation (IFC)
International Union for Conserviation of Nature (IUCN)
International Union for Conserviation of Nature (IUCN)-Species Survival Commission, Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
International Union for Conserviation of Nature (IUCN)-United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Salafsky, N., R. Margoluis, and K. Redford
European Aggregates Association (UEPG)
European Aggregates Association (UEPG)-UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC)
World Business Council for Sustainable Developemnt (WBCSD)
World Business Council for Sustainable Developemnt (WBCSD), Environmental Resources Management (ERM), International Union for Conserviation of Nature (IUCN) & PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)
World Business Council for Sustainable Developemnt (WBCSD), World Resources Institute (WRI) & Meridian Institute

The CSI has collected case studies that highlight responsible quarrying rehabilitation activities. These are drawn from a range of quarry types and local habitats around the world. They include rehabilitation “lessons learned” and contact details for further information in the hope they prove useful for other companies involved in similar quarrying or rehabilitation activities. The case studies have been reviewed by external parties. As a set they can be categorized according to their focus:

  • True methodological approach: Biological inventory followed by evaluation to assess ecosystem and species characteristics. Objectives are clearly linked to evaluation results
  • Systematic intervention: A focus on one habitat or ecosystem e.g., forest/waterway
  • Specific action: A focus on one or a few species
  • Technical approach: Sharing internal technical knowledge about techniques particularly relevant to cement industry, for example excavation technologies and systems
  • No biodiversity objective: Rehabilitation objectives could focus on issues like tourism, environmental education or mixed land use, but biodiversity enhancement also occurs in that process usually thanks to engagement with local stakeholders.

These case studies are examples of existing good practices. They aim to share learning and disseminate good practice, and to improve rehabilitation practices around the world, not just in the areas outlined in this set of case studies. Learning on rehabilitation is continuous and there is more progress to be made – the process of developing these provided a good opportunity for each company to consider the learning they have undergone already.

Case studies in the CSI Guidelines on Quarry Rehabilitation document

A rehabilitation linked to a local biodiversity plan (Page 5 & 6)

Inclusion of a specific stakeholders group linked to social aspects (Page 7)

Type of communication (Page 8 & 9)

Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) (Page 11)

Reference to multisite (Page 12)

Use of the Corporate Ecosystem Review (ESR) (Page 13)

Mitigate negative impacts (Page 14)

Examples of rehabilitation objectives (Page 16 & 17)

Specific technical case studies, e.g. on soil conditions, habitats, alien species, hydrology (Page 18 & 19)

Specific technical case studies, e.g. on soil conditions, habitats, alien species, hydrology (Page 22)

Other case studies 

Related work

The European Cement Association (CEMBUREAU), and the European Aggregates Association (UEPG) have been compiling case studies from amongst their own members, and these can be found here under: