There are numerous quarries and old industrial sites across the Belfast Hills. Many of these sites have naturally regenerated and are rich in biodiversity. However others are overgrown with scrub, have grasslands that are rank due to lack of cutting or grazing, have invasive species, illegal dumping or draining problems.

Other active industrial sites also exist in the Belfast Hills. These sites provide an opportunity to work with site managers in order to initiate improvements for landscape and biodiversity alike.

Working in the quarries

To date, work has been undertaken on numerous industrial sites: Black Mountain quarry, Aughrim Quarry, Mullaghglass quarry, MacWills quarry and the Limestone quarry, Cave Hill.

Staff from the Black Mountain, Aughrim, MacWills and Mullaghglass quarries have embraced the opportunity to work with BHP staff and volunteers on a number of biodiversity improvements to the sites. This has included survey work, wildflower planting, training courses on wildflowers and tree and hedge planting. These improvements have been spread across the four sites which are a mix of active and inactive quarries as well as landfills, both inert and household.

The Limestone Quarry is an inactive/historic quarry. Work was undertaken with Belfast City Council staff and volunteers to remove invasive species and some scrub. Earth has been turned over for wildflower seeds to be sown as a first step to enhancing the site’s biodiversity. Volunteers have also been improving the habitat in the Limestone Quarry for common lizards, Northern Ireland’s only native reptile, by removing scrub to expose open areas for the lizards to bask in the sun. Additionally, the volunteers have working hard to keep vegetation at bay in the pond.