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Stormont rocks again as minister launches geodiversity and biodiversity stragegy

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Rock of a different kind was featured at Stormont today as Arlene Foster launched a Biodiversity and Geodiversity Strategy.

Following on from the successful rock concerts of recent years, rocks of the ‘Flintstone’ variety featured at Stormont today, as Arlene Foster welcomed the publication of the Quarry Products Association strategy for Northern Ireland’s Quarrying and Aggregates Industry.

Launching the Our Nature with Aggregates strategy, the Minister said: “This strategy has been produced by a major Northern Ireland industry which employs over 5,000 people and is worth £730million annually to the local economy.

“This is a first for business and for biodiversity and I warmly congratulate the Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland (QPANI) in taking this initiative, which my department has been happy to support.

“Northern Ireland's unique geological richness is known right around the world, as is its wonderful landscape and biodiversity. This strategy will help to safeguard and enhance this heritage while showcasing the industry’s commitment to ensuring that it continues to operate sustainably.”

Speaking at the launch of the strategy called “Our Nature with Aggregates” Laverne Bell, the Biodiversity and Geodiversity Officer for QPANI said: "Many people don’t realise that working quarries provide important habitats for a wide variety of wildlife. Nesting Peregrine Falcons, for example, are a feature of many quarries. This Strategy for the industry builds on the themes of awareness, action, involvement and partnership to conserve and enhance Northern Ireland’s rich biodiversity and geodiversity."

Notes To Editors:

  1. The Environment and Heritage Service of the Department of the Environment is the devolved government’s statutory nature conservation agency responsible to the Minister of the Environment, Arlene Foster. It undertakes and promotes the protection and conservation of the natural and built environment, the enjoyment of the countryside, wider appreciation of environmental policy best environmental practice and the control and regulation of pollution.
  2. The Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland (QPANI) is Northern Ireland’s top trade association for the quarrying industry. It represents members' interests on policy, planning and technical matters with government departments, local authorities, professional trade bodies and other key audiences at European, national and local levels. Its members produce more than 90% of aggregates extracted in Northern Ireland – sand and gravel and crushed rock as well as non aggregate minerals such as agricultural and industrial lime including limestone, clay and shale for cement. Annual demand for aggregates in Northern Ireland is approximately 24 million tonnes. There are around 160 quarries and sand pits in NI.
  3. The International Day of Biodiversity 2008 - This year’s theme for the International Day for Biological Diversity (IBD), “Biodiversity and Agriculture,” seeks to highlight the importance of sustainable agriculture not only to preserve biodiversity, but also to ensure that we will be able to feed the world, maintain agricultural livelihoods, and enhance human well being into the 21st century and beyond.
  4. Geodiversity is the natural range (diversity) of geological features (rocks, minerals, fossils, and structures), geomorphological features (landforms and processes) and soil features that make up our landscapes.
  5. Biodiversity is the variety of all life found on earth. From microscopic bacteria to the great whales in our oceans. In Northern Ireland it is the variety of plants and animals normally found here.
  6. For media enquiries please contact DOE Press Office 028 9054 0014 or out of office hours, contact the EIS Duty Press Officer on pager 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.