Species Protection Program Sand Martin in the sand pits and gravel pits of HeidelbergCement AG

Project summary

The Sand Martin is a regularly breeding bird in the gravel pits and sand pits of HeidelbergCement AG. For their breeding areas they prefer the freshly uncompleted steep faces
of sandy-clayey material. Before the straightening of the most rivers in Central Europe there was enough natural breeding space for the Sand Martin, because they used the bank demolitions after every high-water. With the flood control a large part of the dynamism has got lost. Today the animals breed only in exploitation sites of the stones-earth-industry in Germany. Here the forming strength is no more the high water, but the excavator shovel. So the continual gravel and sand exploitation became the survival guarantee of these birds. The Sand Martin is on the red list of Germany and is protected according to the federal nature conservation act as especially protected. Generally there are a peaceful coexistence between persons and Sand Martins in the exploitation sites, but in the individual cases it can come to problems, especially when the 2 animals breed in the steep faces which must be mine. In spite of an existing permission, the protective status of the Sand Martin prevents the mining until the end of the breeding season. On this account HeidelbergCement starts the “Species Protection Program Sand Martin” in 2007.

Motivation, objectives and target groups

The purpose of the project is to recognize the possible conflicts in forefront, between the
interests of the exploitation and the protection of the species and nature conservation by management measures and care measures. Therefore a continuous “Species Protection Program” was developed plus management plan. The basis of the project is the mapping of the breeding holes in the exploitation sites, the assessment of the conflict potentials and the elaboration of control measures.


In the breeding season between June and July all breeding holes are counted in the exploitation sites and shown in a map. During the winter months the plant managers have to plan her mining for the coming months.
If there are attractive steep faces for the Sand Martins which must be mine, the workers of
the plant must regards and recon tours the steep faces before the animals return. Also
they must create evasive accommodations for the birds, e.g. unused steep faces. These
are released as far as possible radically from bushes and plant. Additionally they can pile up a waste dumps with sandy-clayey top soil material. The controls of the agreed measures
will be once a year.

• Annual and continuance control of the breeding areas, breeding holes, coordination
of the mining and definition of the measures for the next breeding seasons.
• No mining as well as the continuation of work in excavation pits at the breeding
season; if possibly secure the breeding area.
• Planning and realization of care measures: cutting of the steep faces after every
breeding season with spavins or an excavator, so the Sand Martin can breed at the
same place again next year.
• No back filling of the sand pits and gravel pits.
• Creation of top soil waste dumps.
• Available water surfaces in breeding areas should be kept by tourist activities, because
they are important food habitats.

Project results

The Sand Martin is a very popular kind of bird with a big nature conservation value; because the bird is on the red list Germany and counts according to the federal nature conservation law as especially protected. Within the scope of publications, signs, excursions, day of the open door etc. HeidelbergCement can demonstrate to the interested general public his contribution of nature conservation.

Countries affected


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