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Cemex UK and RSPB begin turtle dove conservation project

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World Cement,

Cemex UK is working with the RSPB to reverse the decline of turtle dove populations. The two organisations have launched a 3-year project at four carefully selected Cemex quarries in central England.

The turtle dove population is on the decline in the UK, losing 95% since 1970. This decline is also being seen elsewhere in Europe, where populations have decline 77% since 1980. The main contributor to the decline is thought to be the loss of suitable habitat and associated food shortages in their breeding ground.

Turtle doves breed in England and are the UK’s only migratory dove, making the 3000-mile journey each winter to West Africa. They feed on seeds, which used to be common in field hedgerows but are increasingly being replaced by commercial crops.

Cemex quarries have the potential to support this threatened bird. The chosen quarries – in Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Southam and Tattershall – offer a suitable habitat with dense scrub and water. The project involves growing a special flower mix to provide the bird’s ideal food, complemented by the nesting habitat. The special seed mix will produce flowering plants that seed by early May when the doves return from Africa and are in need of sustenance to get them ready for breeding season. Volunteers will record the turtle dove numbers at these four quarries and at a further five sites without the special seed mix.

The project is part of Operation Turtle Dove, which is a partnership between the RSPB, Conservation Grade, Pensthorpe Conservation Trust and Natural England. It links with similar projects that BirdLife International is coordinating along the birds’ migration path across France and Spain.

Rob Doody, Cemex’s Director for Aggregate Operations, Cemex UK, said: “This project is so important in saving this iconic bird. It highlights the positive impact that we can make on the natural world. The balance between the natural and built environment is a delicate one which must be preserved not only for nature but future generations.”

Adapted from press release by

Photo credit: Andy Hay,

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