Industry must act now to safeguard biodiversity threatened by limestone quarrying

19 May 2014 | News story

A paper released today by a group of leading conservation organisations including IUCN urges companies and regulators in the extractive industry to protect biodiversity that is found only in limestone areas.

Limestone is found all over the world and is in big demand for cement production and other uses but it is also home to unique and highly restricted biodiversity which is increasingly threatened by quarrying.

Limestone-restricted biodiversity includes many species of bats, snails, orchids, fish, spiders and beetles. Some species can be confined to a single limestone hill or cave. Once exploited, these species are likely to become extinct, and the hills and caves are very difficult or even impossible to restore.

Another challenge is that limestone-restricted biodiversity is often difficult to study and is not adequately considered in environmental impact assessments.

“Operators of limestone quarries need to change their activities to help safeguard limestone-restricted biodiversity,” says Gerard Bos, Director of IUCN’s Business and Biodiversity Programme. “This includes limiting quarries to just one part of a limestone area, supporting wider efforts to increase knowledge about limestone-restricted biodiversity, and avoiding impacts on caves, isolated hills and other key habitats.”

The paper, produced by IUCN, BirdLife International, Fauna & Flora International and WWF, calls on scientific, regulatory and business communities to raise the profile of limestone-restricted biodiversity and act now to avoid further species extinctions and habitat loss.

It urges companies and industry associations to help map critical areas for limestone-restricted biodiversity and take responsibility for protecting underground, as well as surface limestone habitats.

For more information on limestone-restricted biodiversity, and related issues, please contact the Cave Invertebrate Specialist Group of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission: cisg@fauna-flora.org