Cam Quarry is a hard rock quarry situated within the Binevenagh AONB near the town of Macosquin. RESTORE worked with Whitemountain Quarries on restoring areas to wetland habitats, tying in with the surrounding natural landscape.

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Macosquin, County Derry, Northern Ireland



Mineral Type



Whitemountain Quarries

Proposed restoration

Open water
Blanket bog
Wet heath
Bare ground.

Potential best practice

Linking habitats with the surrounding landscape.


Cam Quarry is situated within the Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), less than 3km from River Roe and Tributaries Special Area of Conservation (SAC). It is also situated within the Lough Neagh basin, an area of priority for the RSPB landscape-scale conservation programme.

The quarry was recently approved for a large extension; this process needed a detailed restoration plan. RESTORE advised on possible amendments to this plan and aftercare management.

Cam quarry map

Opportunities identified by RESTORE

The quarry provides ideal opportunities to restore wet heath and blanket bog. The island of Ireland has the second largest extent of peatland in Europe, yet in Northern Ireland only 15% remains intact.

Why Cam Quarry fitted RESTORE objectives:

  • Falls within the Northern Ireland Futurescape
  • The site extends to over 58ha
  • The site is close to existing priority habitat
  • Opportunity to remove woodland planting schemes in an upland area
  • Potential to share best practice, in an area which has a high concentration of quarries.


October 2013

RESTORE approached Whitemountain Quarries to explore restoration potential

August 2014

Planning application for extension was approved.

November 2014

RESTORE issued thoughts on amending final restoration plan and aftercare management.

Proposed restoration

The approved restoration plan, dated September 2012, consists of areas of open water, blanket bog, conifer woodland, broadleaved woodland, species-rich grassland, scree slopes, bare rock and an informal gravel path.

It also includes a high level of detail including a planting schedule, wildflower seed mix and restoration design instructions.

Our response and suggestions

Bare earth

We welcomed the observation that some cliff facings would be retained but advised that most be restoration blasted or have scree slopes added. One area of cliff separated two proposed areas of restored blanket bog. RESTORE advised on blasting this cliff and restoring it to heath which would act as a natural corridor between the two areas of bog. We advised that some south-facing slopes be maintained as sparsely-vegetated mosaics, with rotational scraping to manage scrub.

not approved


Around 50% of the site was planned for restoration to blanket bog. Proposed plan revision is to extend this, replacing the proposed grassland and woodland planting. We also advised on the correct land forming to ensure that the peat remained level and retained good water levels.

We also advised on the correct peatland structure ensuring that the upper part of the peat (acrotelm – undecomposed plant material) remained at the top while also maintaining the valuable seed bank. This must be done in one go, ensuring the peat is kept wet. Heather brash, collected in autumn, was recommended to be laid on top of the bare peat.

We advised that some summer sheep grazing would be recommended when the peatland is established to ensure that no rush or grass begin dominating. We also advised removing any trees that begin encroaching onto this habitat, reiterating the importance of no woodland planting.

Peat land forming technique advised to operator. © Quinty and Rochefort (2003)


The plan for the final restoration includes a very deep water body. The plan sought to maximise marginal edge habitat in selected areas; our advice was to extend this around the entire lake perimeter. Also, to not seed the water margins, instead allow natural colonisation resulting in greater diversity and opportunities for pioneer aquatic species to benefit. An artificial floating island was also recommended, as nesting habitat for terns that feed in the nearby Lough Foyle estuary.

We welcomed the network of ponds in the plan and advised on allowing them to naturally vegetate and keeping the periphery clear of any terrestrial vegetation.

not approved


A large area of the site was denoted to be conifer or broadleaf woodland. The advice was to remove this from the plan; the land being more suited for peatland restoration. Trees would also host predators that can prey on the species attracted to the nearby habitat, as well as encroach onto peatland and therefore increase management costs. We suggested creating larger amounts of best-fitting habitat and avoid cramming too many habitats into one site.


RESTORE advised that the proposed areas of grassland be reinstated as peatland or wet heath habitat to tie in with the natural surrounding landscape. We suggested that if the grassland was to go ahead, that the land was formed to include topographical variation and allowed to naturally regenerate. In addition to this, we added that some rock terracing would create excellent habitat for invertebrates on this habitat.

How this best practice is transferable

The site showcases the potential for peatland restoration, instead of traditional grassland restoration. Best practice here includes:

  • Linking with surrounding natural habitats
  • Maintaining water levels for peat restoration
  • Maintaining areas of bare ground
  • Retaining interesting quarry features and micro topography
  • Tree and scrub removal.

Lessons learned

The operator has learned to link habitat restoration with the surrounding natural environment and aimed for the creation of larger ecological units instead of small areas of varying habitat.