The Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) continues to note major cement and aggregate producers’ environmental stewardship through certification and recognition during its annual symposium. “Celebrating Corporate Conservation” was the theme of the 2014 symposium, held late last year in Baltimore.
LAFARGE NORTH AMERICA
The Council has certified or recertified nine conservation projects at Lafarge North America sites across the United States. Six fall under WHC’s Wildlife at Work program, which oversees voluntary efforts that go beyond regulatory requirements to restore and conserve wildlife habitats on corporate-owned land. The remaining three projects operate under WHC’s Corporate Lands for Learning certification, which goes a step farther by opening up corporate lands to the local community for educational use.
“WHC has been an invaluable partner in helping us fulfill our environmental sustainability goals over the years,” says Lafarge U.S. Vice President of Environment Craig Campbell. “These programs validate our sites’ commitment to operate as integrated, non-disruptive members of the surrounding ecosystem, which is one of the values we hold as stewards of the land. Our commitment to this value and ability to share lessons learned with local students and community groups is a unique opportunity to foster a sustainable cycle of environmental consciousness with long-lasting positive impacts.”
Since 2008, Lafarge has been working with WHC to restore and preserve habitats where they operate through projects that promote the diversity of native plants and animals. Programs certified under Corporate Lands for Learning also serve as hands-on outdoor classrooms for local schools and community groups; examples include planting trees and shrubs to enhance habitats, establishing gardens that attract essential pollinators, mounting bird houses, building brush piles to provide cover for animals, plus building and maintaining water supplies. Lafarge supports migratory birds and ecosystems from New Orleans to Upper Michigan and a significant portion of the Northeast.
WHC works with businesses to translate corporate sustainability goals and objectives into measurable real-world action that address a habitat’s most pressing needs. By building collaboration among corporations, other conservation organizations, government agencies and local residents, Council conservation programs strive to build healthy ecosystems and connected communities. With the addition of these certified and recertified projects, Lafarge and WHC now operate a total of 25 programs in 10 states.
Joining “Celebrating Corporate Conservation” presenters was Titan America Environmental Manager Muhammad Khan, whose case study, “Titan Florida’s Ecological Restoration,” traced an ambitious natural undertaking at the company’s Pennsuco cement mill. In the 1940s, the Corps of Engineers planted what it believed were harmless Melaleuca trees in and around the campus of the operation. By the late 1990s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had determined the tree to be an invasive species, compelling Titan staff to eradicate the familiar greenery.
Over the course of three years, employees and a local biologist had replaced the Melaleuca with native Gumbo Limbo, Live Oak and Red Maple plantings. “It was a hard fight to reverse the spread of the invasive species but the results are most gratifying,” affirms Khan, who led the effort.
Fifty acres have been mitigated, including an Upland Tree Island that bears plantings spread over 3,000 sq. ft. The Pennsuco campus now accommodates bird habitants including Cattle Egret, Bald Eagle, Wood Stork, White Ibis and Flamingo. A family of otters enjoy nearby waters.
Pennsuco staff received international recognition for contributions to conservation education at the WHC’s 25th Annual Symposium (2013). Titan America, LLC demonstrated its continued commitment to environmental stewardship by achieving Corporate Lands for Learning certification at Pennsuco.
During the Baltimore gathering, the producer received the Conservation Education Award, recognizing outstanding national legacy in the pursuit of excellence in wildlife habitat conservation education and outreach. The award honors an organization for its combined efforts in providing educational experiences and opportunities for personal contact with the natural world, benefiting both employees and the surrounding community.
“It is a tremendous honor for our company and employees to be recognized for our commitment to environmental education and sustainability,” said Vulcan Materials CEO Tom Hill. “Many of our sites are located in and around areas with limited habitat for wildlife. By preserving portions of our land and establishing designated habitat areas, we provide sanctuaries for many plant and animal species.”
“We applaud [the] company for its outstanding commitment to establishing site-based education programs, linked soundly to habitat enhancement projects,” added WHC President Margaret O’Gorman. “This award is not for one specific program at one specific site. Rather, it honors the entire company for its collective efforts in providing quality and accessible education experiences and opportunities in the communities where Vulcan operates throughout the country.”
A nonprofit, non-lobbying organization dedicated to increasing the quality and amount of wildlife habitat on corporate, private and public lands, WHC devotes its resources to building partnerships with corporations and conservation groups to create solutions that balance the demands of economic growth with the requirements of a healthy, bio diverse and sustainable environment. WHC-assisted wildlife habitat and conservation education programs are found in 45 states, District of Columbia, and 11 other countries. — www.wildlifehc.org