The Quarry Life Award: Heidelberg Materials' nature based competition

There has never been a more exciting time to be at the forefront of nature conservation. With the UN decade of ecosystem restoration and the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) in 2022 and the initiation of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), it is clear that the private sector needs to play a key role in reversing biodiversity loss by understanding its impacts and dependencies, mainstreaming the topic throughout the business and working toward a net positive outcome for nature.

At Heidelberg Materials the protection and enhancement of nature is a material issue for the business, being at the core of our sustainability strategy with global commitments and local action. In more than 600 active quarries worldwide Heidelberg Materials is committed to protecting and enhancing nature during and after extraction and promoting a high diversity of local flora and fauna.

In order to support and increase biodiversity at our sites, strengthen communication channels with our neighbours, as well as educate and raise awareness about the importance of nature and celebrate the conservation of habitats and species, Heidelberg Materials established the Quarry Life Award in 2012.

The Quarry Life Award is a scientific and education competition, takes place every three years and runs simultaneously at national and international levels. Its aim is to raise the awareness of the ecological value of extraction sites and to find new ways to further enhance it.

Over the past 5 editions of the Quarry Life Award, more than 1400 projects proposals were submitted, out of which more than 450 were selected to take part in the research period. These projects involved nearly a thousand researchers and reached out to thousands of stakeholders.

Quarry Life Award: 6th edition (2024-2025)

Heidelberg Materials invites all nature enthusiasts, for example researchers, students and citizens, to take part in this unique competition by designing new and innovative projects based on the biodiversity in our quarries. Candidates are invited to develop a project idea in one of the participating quarries and to submit a ‘project proposal’ by 18 November 2024 on the website.

By 2 December 2024 the Quarry Life Award juries of each national contest will select a maximum of six projects that can enter the competition. The contestants will then be invited to realise their project ideas during the research period of January to September 2025. All selected projects will compete simultaneously at national and international levels.

At the end of the research period, the contestants will have to submit a ‘final project report’ of no more than 10 pages. Reports can be written in national language and in English. However, the international jury will only consider the final project reports submitted in English for international awards. The deadline for the final report submission is 4 October 2025.

National and International Awards 2025

At the national level, the Quarry Life Award 2025 is a two-stream competition held in more than 20 countries worldwide. Projects can be carried out by individuals or teams in one of the following streams:

Research Stream: Scientific projects that increase the knowledge of quarry-specific ecology and/or lead to improved biodiversity, landscape or water management at our extraction sites.

Community Stream: Projects that help the quarry and our operating units to better connect with the community and raise awareness among the wider general public of the biodiversity at our extraction sites.

At national level, the two best projects will be awarded their prizes in the autumn of 2025. The winning team in the research and community stream will each be awarded with prize money with the purchasing power of € 5,000.

The International prizes will be awarded in the following categories:

  • Biodiversity Management
  • Habitat & Species
  • Beyond Quarry Borders
  • Biodiversity & Education
  • Connecting Quarries and Communities
  • Nature Based Solutions

At international level, the international jury will assess all competing projects from a broader perspective, with due consideration for transferability. The best projects in each of the six categories will be awarded with a prize of € 10,000 each. The best project overall will receive no less than € 30,000.

Names of the national winners will be revealed in autumn 2025. The international winners will be awarded their prize money during a special ceremony, which is normally held in December.

What type of projects are we looking for?

In the research stream:

The national juries use evaluation criteria such as methodology, feasibility of the project, innovation and creativity, communication of project results, added value for science and the company.

For projects submitted under the research stream, the international jury is particularly interested in projects that can fit under these three categories, which are then awarded at international level:

Category Biodiversity management:

  • rehabilitation concepts / methods / projects
  • projects increasing biodiversity during production
  • projects which create new living spaces / habitats for plants and animals on our sites
  • optimization of management and rehabilitation techniques

> Goal: to promote biodiversity during and after extraction

Category Habitat and species research:

  • mappings, surveys, scientific studies

> Goal: to increase the scientific knowledge about biodiversity to improve management actions at quarry level

Category Beyond quarry borders:

  • Study on habitat connectivity, urban & landscape ecology, green infrastructure and biodiversity measures

> Goal: to better understand and improve the connection of the quarry with its neighbouring environment

In the community stream:

The national juries use evaluation criteria such as educational value and potential for raising awareness, local stakeholder involvement, added value for the community and the quarrying site as well as feasibility of the project.

Similarly, projects submitted in the community stream are also evaluated by the International Jury under the following three categories:

Category Biodiversity & education:

  • Educational materials and programs
  • Nature activities with stakeholders, museums, labs, art…

> Goal: to raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity by developing new education tools and activities

Category Connecting quarries and local communities:

  • Building green bridges, insect hotels, nest boxes with communities
  • Ecological projects in the quarry involving the community, citizen science projects
  • Creating quarry nature trails, recreational areas, viewing platforms

> Goal: to involve local stakeholders in biodiversity actions benefitting both the quarry and the local community

Category Nature Based Solutions

  • Piloting concepts / methods / projects
  • Ideas showcasing how the sustainable use of biodiversity and its conservation can be combined
  • Initiatives creating direct economic benefits for the communities surrounding our operations
  • Ideas / projects that have the potential to be scaled up into viable businesses

> Goal: Create economic benefits for the community but also combine biodiversity protection and usage as well as enhancing ecosystem services

All participants agree to abide by the company’s health and safety regulations. Any team or individual not following health and safety regulations will be immediately disqualified.

Do you want to know more? Click on How to participate