Rehabilitated areas of Kaolin AD - Home for animals and birds

Rehabilitated areas of Kaolin AD - Home for animals and birds

Recultivation of lands, disturbed by extraction is a complex activity, aimed at restoration of the areas for future rational and environmentally sound use. Recultivation processes are aimed at restoring the function of damaged lands and the creation of balanced ecological systems. Recultivation transforms or recovers damaged areas, creates more productive anthropogenic landscapes and habitats of different species. Many nature reserves in Europe are located in old and recultivated former quarries. Thus, areas with relatively poor environmental quality are replaced by sites with very rich environmental properties.

Legislation of the Republic of Bulgaria stipulates that mining and geological organizations must lead their recultivation processes, restoring technologically damaged lands into agricultural or forestry fund. Forests are characterized by the greatest biodiversity of all ecosystems on Earth. They provide habitats to about two thirds of the species on the planet. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) estimates that each year 130,000 km² of the world's forests are lost due to deforestation.

The forests are replaced by agricultural land, unsustainable logging, misused management practices and construction of settlements and related infrastructure are the most common causes of forested areas loss. Over the past 100 years, the exploitation of forests has increased significantly. As a result, nearly 45% of primary forest covering of Earth is destroyed and the reckless use and management of remaining forest ecosystems has led to their fragmentation and degradation. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are more than 1 billion hectares destroyed or degraded forest areas in the world, which may be recovered. Forests maintain a stable global climate, and should be the base of measures against climate change. They offer the fastest and most economical way to control greenhouse gases. Forests are habitat for many plant and animal species and source of food, medicine and water, and play an important role in maintaining a stable global climate and environment. In 2000, Kaolin AD implemented a project for large-scale recultivation of the outside dump of its existing deposit of quartz-kaolin raw material. The company carried out forestation activities on area of nearly 200 acres. Today, the forest, numbering more than 40,000 young acacia trees is a new habitat for different species. It is planned that in partnership with specialists from Department of Nature at the Regional Museum of History Ruse, numerous projects to be developed and implemented for promotion of the breeding of birds by providing nesting sites. Students from local schools and eco-clubs will mount over 100 bird houses and 20 bird feeders. By participating in the project, the children will learn to respect their environment and gain knowledge about biodiversity in their region.

Tailings pond of Kaolin AD in Vetovo – an attractive place for many species

Tailings pond of Kaolin AD in Vetovo – an attractive place for many species

Tailings pond of Kaolin AD in Vetovo has been operating since 1977. It is intended to accumulate technological waste of the company. The site is maintained in very good condition, which is acknowledged by supervisory authorities as well. Facilities – dams, dry slopes, drainage prisms, piezometers and waste pipelines are in very good condition and under constant monitoring. Periodically, Kaolin AD performs the necessary measurements of piezo-metric wells, determining the level of depression curve and geodesic measurements. Emergency plans have been developed and separate emergency stores are at disposition. On the territory of Vetovo tailings pond, a water reservoir with area of 50 acres has been formed. Even in the hottest days its waters do not dry. The chemical analysis of water shows that it is not contaminated with environmentally hazardous elements. Newly formed lasting reservoir is fished by Kaolin AD with ten types of fish. With this initiative, the company turned a dead body of water into gravity point for many species. Water body is used for wintering site and as a stop during the spring and autumn passage of 7 bird species protected under the Biodiversity Act – Egretta garzetta, Egretta alba, Ardea cinerea, Ciconia nigra, Ciconia ciconia, Cygnus olor, Cygnus cygnus, Anas platyrhynchos, Anas querquedula and Phasianus colchicus.

“Vetovo” tailings pond is surrounded by mixed oak and acacia forest and artificial plantation of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). Twenty-nine types of plants, including trees and bushes have been registered. The number of plant species is significant, since the plants blossom before the actual vegetative period, which starts in late spring to beginning of summer. The presence of two water plants – rush and reed, indicates that the reservoir in the tailings pond is with low level of contamination, which allows growing of these species as well, which normally exist in eutrophic water reservoirs.

The oak-acacia forest, in the Kaolin AD site is a prerequisite for good population growth of spring bulb plants – yellow crocus (Crocus flavus), squill (Scilla bifolia), musk-/grape- hyacinth. The forest massifs determine the presence of diverse mammals fauna. In “Vetovo” tailings pond are to be found the wild boar, red deer, roe deer, beech marten, European badger, red fox and European wild cat. The people of Kaolin AD left feeders which they regularly supply with hay and grains to ease the feeding during the winter season.

Kaolin AD works in cooperation with experts from “Nature” department at Regional Museum of History in Ruse for development of long-term strategy for preservation and stimulation of the biological diversity. Monthly monitoring is effected on the flora and fauna in the area of tailings pond “Vetovo”, including drawing of biological valuation and preparation of research on the ethology of the animal species in the region. All species from the flora and fauna shall be described and will gain conservation status. Information board with details on biodiversity and history of tailings pond “Vetovo” is planned to be assembled.

Kaolin AD Quarry in Dabravino – rescue shelter for sand martins

Kaolin AD Quarry in Dabravino – rescue shelter for sand martins

For centuries, people have been using mineral resources without consideration of the consequences of the negative environmental impact. Until recently, it has been assumed that the destruction of specific habitats is an irreversible process. However, in global and European scale, practice shows different, more encouraging results. In many sand quarries, after revealing the layers and formation of vertical walls, there appear excellent conditions for the growth of breeding colonies of two very interesting species of birds – European Bee-eater and Sand martin. Sand quarry of Kaolin AD in Dabravino is a life-line for the sand martin. In the year 2007, in the deposit settled several pairs of sand martins. The first year they were about 20 in number and raised offspring without being influenced by the proximity of the running technical works. Kaolin AD took immediate action to carry out the extraction, consistent with the breeding season for the migratory guests. Four years later, thanks to ecological involvement of the staff working in this quarry, there are impressive results - a colony of nesting sand martins is increased to about 150 breeding pairs. Due to poor regulation of the rivers most of the natural habitats of these birds have been destroyed, but a sand quarry of Kaolin AD with its soft and sheer walls, with its environmentally friendly company actions, provides excellent conditions for their reproduction.

Sand Martin (Riparia riparia), class r Passeriformes /, Family Martins / Hirundinidae / is a monogamous bird - couples are retained for life. It nests on vertical earth banks of rivers and other water bodies, where its name originates.

It selects areas with a loose and soft soil. The nest is a horizontal hole in the vertical slope with an opening of 6-8 cm and length of 1,5 m. Both birds dig it in shifts with their feet.

In the end there is nesting chamber, which represents a slight extension. In the nesting chamber is the nest itself, it is built of straw, moss, dry grass, feathers and down. They lay 2-5 white eggs. Both parents incubate for 13-15 days. Small birds leave the nest after about three weeks; the parents feed them with insects. Unlike other martins, they most frequently grow only one brood a year. They live in flocks on the outskirts of freshwater ponds and rivers and marshes, rich of small flying insects. They eat mostly flying insects, mosquitoes, flies, dragonflies, which they catch during flight. In Bulgaria, the Sand martin is protected by the Biological Diversity Law and it is included in Appendix № 3.