Biodiversity and Landscape

There are huge opportunities to enhance biodiversity in both operational and exhausted stone quarries.

In the UK, over 60% of designated sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) contain old mineral workings. This is broadly for two reasons as outlined below.

Firstly, the disturbance of the ground creates a varied topography and substrate. Consequent rock faces provide ideal nest sites for peregrine falcons and ravens, scree slopes provide habitat for specialist fauna such as red helleborine, whilst depressions fill with water to make irregular depth ponds.

Secondly, soils are often left impoverished. In the past the soil may have been lost, however, in more modern times they will be stored for planned after use. In most historical cases, no applications of fertilisers, insecticides or fungicides will have been made for decades or longer and therefore the exhausted soil could not be reinvigorated.

At Longcliffe we endeavour at all stages to enhance the quarry areas with a view to encouraging biodiversity.

Generally speaking, a quarry is worked in a series of approximately 15m high benches. Below these, a ledge is left to both support the rock face above and to catch occasional fallen rocks from that face. Where the internal quarry faces are visible to the public these ledges are often made deeper and filled with quarry waste and soils to form a rollover.

These rollovers may be grassed for grazing or planted with trees and at Longcliffe, we also cover the low angle cliff faces below with nutrient poor soils and seeds to help establish and sustain a wide variety of grasses and flowers.

Dry stone walls are often added to remain in keeping with the local Peak District landscape.
At every opportunity approved mixes of native trees, 80% native calcareous grasses and 20% native calcareous flowers, are planted or sown on disturbed ground or restored areas. These mixes have been approved by Derbyshire County Council landscape architects. A typical list of approved trees is shown below for a limestone dale side planting.

Trees     Major - Field Maple, Ash                                Secondary – Rowan, Crab Apple

Shrubs   Major – Hazel, Hawthorn                             Minor – Holly, Goat Willow, Guelder Rose

There are also many commercially available combined grass and flower mixes sown including common names of Cowslip, Cuckoo flower, Pignut and Red campion to name just a few!

In conclusion, Longcliffe tries to limit any adverse views of its operations by blending them in to the landscape. Increasing biodiversity on our landholdings is a major aim which is increasingly successful with exhausted quarries such as Hoe Grange being professionally managed as nature reserves.