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Lafarge honoured for environmental stewardship

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by Mitch Calvert

Lafarge Canada's Greater Winnipeg operation has earned recognition on the international stage for its commitment to environmental stewardship.
Lafarge honoured for environmental stewardship

correspondent

Winnipeg

Lafarge Canada's Greater Winnipeg operation has earned recognition on the international stage for its commitment to environmental stewardship.

Lafarge was honoured with a Wildlife at Work certificate during the Wildlife Habitat Council’s (WHC) 23rd Annual Symposium, People, Partnerships and Pathways.

It earned the award for achievements in biodiversity on its Stonewall Quarry operation and the surrounding area.

Wildlife at Work programs are voluntary efforts that exceed regulatory requirements on projects varying in scope, from large scale prairie and wetland restoration efforts such as this project, down to individual species management and native planting projects.

They emphasize community involvement by collaborating with local teachers and students, Scout groups, master gardeners and other community members.

Lafarge’s limestone operation has been active at the quarry for some time and, as a result, was looking for ways to reduce its environmental waste.

The Oak Hammock Wildlife Management Area is located just east of the site.

“Knowing we wanted to do something regarding biodiversity and reclamation in the area, we had gone to the University of Winnipeg looking for initial ideas,” explained Dawn Fraser, environmental analyst with Lafarge’s Greater Winnipeg operation.

Under the guidance of the faculty at the University of Winnipeg, led by professor German Avila Sakar, the stakeholders hatched plans for a composting and reclamation project in 2009—aimed at restoring the site to an ecological status similar to its original, undisturbed condition.

The stonewall quarry was originally opened during a time when removing and stockpiling topsoil for use in reclamation was not common practice, so in order to reclaim the area properly it was necessary to bring in a substitute layer of topsoil.

As luck would have it, the Rural Municipality of Rockwood was looking for help with its composting operation, which gave Lafarge the opportunity it was looking for.

“In partnership with the University of Winnipeg and Rockwood, we put together this opportunity where we would utilize the leaf waste and compost from the community and spread it as a replacement topsoil for our reclaimed area,” Fraser said.

Lafarge and its partners at the university are looking to take the project a step further by undertaking a study of the compost rates and their effect on vegetative growth, as it evolves over time.

In addition to the composting/reclamation project, the team has engaged in several outreach initiatives in the area.

They’ve partnered with local Grade 4 teacher, Ruth Morrison, in Teulon, Manitoba to develop a class for elementary students based on the life cycle of a quarry and the environmental aspects of operations, specifically geared towards biodiversity and the basics of geology.

The team has also struck up an affiliation with Craig Willis of Bat Blitz, collaborating on a project to build bat houses and tag area bats in an effort to study White-Nose Syndrome, a poorly understood disease that has had devastating effects on North America’s bat populations.

Lafarge has also reached out to Girl Guides of Canada to participate in the bat habitat build.

Lafarge’s Stonewall Aggregates was one of 251 sites recognized at the 2011 WHC Symposium for creating or maintaining a Wildlife at Work program.

Since 1990, the council has certified 657 Wildlife at Work programs worldwide.

The certification program recognizes outstanding wildlife habitat management and environmental education efforts at corporate sites, and offers third-party validation of the benefits of such programs.

Certification requirements are strict and require that sites apply for periodic renewal.

“Formed as an unbridled partnership between corporations, communities and conservation organizations, the Wildlife Habitat Council exemplifies the power of collaborative conservation as the foundation of environmental stewardship,” said Robert Johnson, council president, in a press release. “Congratulations to Lafarge for its commitment and contributions to wildlife habitat enhancement, community outreach, and conservation education.”

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