HeidelbergCement: Promoting, evaluating and managing biodiversity

HeidelbergCement is committed to sustainability. We have been promoting, evaluating and managing biodiversity for many years. By developing methodologies to quantify biodiversity in monetary terms, we were interested in adding more weight to the business case behind biodiversity and apply it at our sites. 

Through our partnership with BirdLife International and as part of RESTORE (a RSPB-led EU-funded project), we analysed ecosystem services at three of our sites.

We have increasingly recognized the value of biodiversity at reclaimed extraction sites. Determining the end-use of a quarry is a complicated decision process and requires substantial stakeholder engagement.

The benefits of biodiversity at end-of-use are often less clear compared to agriculture or the built environment, making it an unattractive option. We used several methodologies (including the TESSA toolkit) to determine and quantify the ecosystems services provided at our sites in the UK and Netherlands compared with alternative end-uses. 

Natural Capital Protocol used
  • No
Impact drivers assessed
  • GHG emissions e.g. volume of CO2, CH4, N2O, SF6, HFCs and PFCs etc.
  • Impact on biodiversity e.g. impact on species, ecosystems, habitats or genetic diversity
  • Other resource use e.g. volume of minerals extracted, volume of wild fish caught by species
  • Terrestrial ecosystem use e.g. area of agriculture by type, area of forest plantation by type
Organizational Focus
  • Project
Valuation Type
  • Quantitative
  • Value to business
  • Value to society
Geographical Scope
  • The Netherlands
  • United Kingdom
Dependencies assessed
  • Biodiversity
  • Experience e.g. nature-based recreation, tourism
Value Chain Boundary
  • Direct operations
Sectors
  • Cement

Key findings

Two assessments focused on wetland habitats and one on calcareous grassland. The study compared the ecosystem services provided with alternative scenarios, e.g. agriculture, recreation and woodland. 

We found that the wetland habitat scenarios provide higher carbon storage potential, with up to twice the carbon stored than in an agricultural alternative. Through a willingness-to-pay assessment, we learned that the general public assigned high aesthetic values to our sites, generating a greater recreational value than other end-use types, particularly when located near urban areas. 

This study has given us the first insights into the value of biodiversity-orientated end-uses. By measuring and evaluating other services alongside the intrinsic value of biodiversity, we can present a stronger economic case for biodiversity-led reclamation schemes, both within our company and to external stakeholders. The results and assessment will inform our internal guidance and form part of a toolkit that can be used and implemented at site level.