Lafarge Aggregates & Concrete UK turned its Panshanger Park quarry into an outdoor classroom for the day as ecology students from the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew learned how quarry restoration can be a friend to nature.
It was the fourth year students on Kew’s Vegetation Survey course had been taken around Panshanger, a country park estate owned by the construction materials firm.
Lafarge digs sand and gravel from the estate, most of which goes to local building projects, restoring the land to a variety of uses as it finishes extraction.
The 12 students were able to see how the quarrying operations, subsequent restoration and ongoing land management ultimately enhance and encourage biodiversity.
Jonathan Timberlake, from the Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, who led the visit, said: “For many of the students it may be the first time they have experienced an industrial site and they get to see that the extractive industry can renovate and restore environments in a positive way.
“They learn how enlightened land management can enhance and actually improve the biodiversity of an area.
“One element which really impresses at Panshanger is the dragonfly ponds and how a small amount of work can create something truly beneficial.”
The visit took in the sand and gravel processing plant to give context to the site as well as restored, managed and natural habitats, all with a view to learn how wildlife issues are incorporated into Lafarge’s extractive operations.
“Panshanger Quarry is being restored to a varied range of habitat and land use, including lakes and wetlands, grassland, woodland and arable farmland within the historic setting of Panshanger Park.”
Kew run the two-week courses, of which the Panshanger visit is a part, for people in the field of natural resource management to learn vegetation survey methods and techniques.