Brendan Liveris – Sustainability Manager
Earlier this year I wrote about our focus on improving biodiversity outcomes, some of the opportunities, and how to make the most of them. Improving biodiversity at our sites is part of our global business’ commitment to cultivate eco-diversity and a key initiative of HeidelbergCement’s Sustainability Commitments 2030.
Locally, some exciting biodiversity inroads are being realised at our Clarinda Recycling Facility. This 22-hectare property is located south-east of Melbourne and is responsible for recycling anywhere up to one million tonnes of construction and demolition recyclables every year, as well as 22% of Melbourne’s glass waste. Much the site was rehabilitated in the transition from quarrying to recycling activities. And now the recycling occurs in the centre of the site and is surrounded by an expansive landscape of indigenous trees and shrubs that provided excellent screening, and unique habitat for native wildlife.
Over the years Clarinda employees have seen native birds, reptiles, frogs, bats, and even the occasional possum settle into the site’s trees and around its expansive lakes.
Our vision for the site is to optimise Clarinda’s habitats for native wildlife through a community conservation program that draws on our global learnings and applies them locally.
We’ve also taken advice from former quarries that have successfully transformed into wildlife havens. Darebin Parklands is one example. This site was a former 40-metre deep quarry hole, which became a tip. It is now a picturesque parkland, and home to echidnas, up to 70 species of birds, native fish and flying foxes.
Our community partner, Zoos Victoria, is the state’s leading conservation organisation. Their conservation team have assisted in the development of a biodiversity improvement plan to improve the habitat for resident fauna. This includes the installation of protective shelters like nesting boxes for insects, birds, bats and marsupials, and floating islands that will provide native birds refuge from potential predators.
We’ve joined forces with our neighbours at Heatherton Christian College who will be working with us to achieve an enhanced habitat for native species and a truly unique environmental studies space for their students on the site’s southeastern corner, closest to the school.
Heatherton’s students will have unique access to a range of unique, real-life educational experiences relevant to their studies in a range of science and humanities subjects. The students will also have the opportunity to virtually monitor the wildlife through an array of real-time cameras installed in some of the initial bird boxes. In time, they will be involved with further enhancements, including the addition of nesting boxes for insects, bats and marsupials.
The damp and reeded areas surrounding the existing onsite wetlands are ideal for native amphibians. A number of our southern sites are known to provide excellent habitat for the endangered Growling Grass Frog. We have worked closely with the City of Whittlesea and conservation agencies at the Epping Recycling Facility to support the species’ ecosystem and preserve its natural habitat.
As a former sand pit, the Clarinda facility has expansive waterbodies, and a very diverse range of greenery of various heights and density, making it an ideal habitat for a wide range of native fauna. We are excited to be working with Ecology Australia who are conducting a comprehensive bird and frog study at Clarinda to confirm what species already exist at the Clarinda Recycling Facility, and to develop further strategies to enhance their habitat. From there, we expect to invest in growing more greenery around the water banks, to thicken the existing flora and create an extra level of biodiversity.