From sodium carbonate to painted frogs – life of a quarry

Species of great conservation concern such as the Iberian painted frog Discoglossus galganoi, very rare in Cantabria, or the European tree frog Hyla arborea have populations established in the former quarry. (c) Anxo Resúa

Species of great conservation concern, such as the Iberian painted frog Discoglossus galganoi, have established populations  in the former quarry.
(c) Anxo Resúa

Former mining sites often develop into artificial wetlands. This is the case of Cuchias quarry of Solvay S.A. at the bank of the Besaya river estuary in Northern Spain.

In this quarry, the freshwater wetland complex has become the perfect complement to the salt marshes habitats of the estuary.

Solvay S.A. is a chemical company with a huge environmental legacy in the area. Working with​​ SEO/BirdLife (BirdLife in Spain) in Cantabria to restore biodiversity at its former quarry is an opportunity to demonstrate commitment and responsibility to the environment.

Following the closure of limestone extraction a collection of freshwater habitats has developed with predominance of aquatic vegetation such as reed, bullrush and various species of sedge and willows. Diverse wildlife has colonised the site, among which seven species of amphibians, 14 species of dragonflies and damselflies and over 60 species of water birds including 19 species of waders and 20 ducks.

Cuchia aerial

Exploitation of limestone began by Solvay SA in 1927 for the production of sodium carbonate. Extraction operations were terminared in 2006 and since then Solvay has implemented landscape restoration works and since 2013 has drawn up an action plan for ecological restoration.

The biodiversity objectives pursued with SEO/BirdLife’s advice aim to increase the value of the wetlands by improving the connection between the lakes, and by stopping the spread of exotic plant species such as the pampas grass Cortadeira selloana. In addition public use of the site will be regulated and roads will be closed to reduce disturbance. The effects on biodiversity will be monitored.

Info pannel birds

Info pannel arthropods

Information for this post was kindly provided by:

Felipe González Sánchez & Ignacio Fernandez Calvo. SEO/BirdLife

Antonio Arduengo. SOLVAY S.A.

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