«I wish others would be like KFN»

Barbara Fierz, manager of Pro Natura Glarus, sheds a light on the co-operation between environment protection groups and KFN

While mining for lime leaves by nature a footprint in the environment, KFN tries to make this footprint as small as possible. To this end, KFN also works with environment protection groups. What this co-operation means in detail, how KFN accepts requests by environmental groups and what benefits for nature quarries that are no longer used bring is explained by Barbara Fierz. As the manager of Pro Natura Glarus she knows the issues first hand.


Many companies claim to be sustainable, but do not live up to that promise. How sustainable is KFN in the eyes of Pro Natura Glarus?

KFN is a system immanent company. However, mining for lime means great intrusions into the landscape. Burning lime emits a lot of CO2. By nature, KFN has a hard time to achieve a high degree of sustainability. I find it remarkable, nonetheless, how serious they take the sustainability issue.

What exactly do you mean by this?

KFN thought about sustainability already when others were far from it. They put a focus on research that will try to limit CO2emissions, they prefer rail in shipping their goods and they are open to new ideas in nature and landscape conservation.

How do they deal with concrete ideas of environment protection groups?

I was involved in the process of enlarging their quarry twice. We were able to work in a very constructive way. Requests we had referring to detailed examinations, for example, were always taken very seriously. Additionally, we were involved in the enlarging project from an early stage, putting us in a position to truly help shape the project. I wish other companies would be like KFN in this aspect, paying heed to environmental aspects to a similar degree. 

But is this so exceptional?

Unfortunately, it is. Many corporations show us their projects only when they are almost complete and consider environmental issues to be of lesser importance, as if they stood in their way. KFN is totally different in this aspect. They try to keep the views of different stakeholders – including of the local community and of the canton – in mind from the beginning and they try to reconcile them. Based on this open communication culture, a foundation of trust was built, from which all parties benefit. 

The renaturation of areas that will not be used for mining for the foreseeable future is an important issue for KFN. How do environmental groups accompany the company in that aspect?

For this project as well, there will be an advisory group, consisting of experts from the canton authorities and environmental groups. This will put us in a position to help the company in this huge task.

Do you have concrete plans for this already?

No, we still have to look at the details of this one. For example: if a habitat disappears because mining is in progress in one location, it may make sense to create such a habitat in a part that is no longer used. We will also look at how “wounds in the landscape” can to some extent be “healed” optically. We plan to accompany the company for many, many years. What steps will be necessary in 30 or more years from an environment protection point of view, no one can say. What is certain is that the dialogue will continue to be important.

The environment is of considerable concern for KFN. What developments could you notice in the nature around the quarries because of this?

For years now, KFN installs temporary replacement biotopes for reptiles and amphibians, thus preserving sorely needed habitats for these animals. For the wild bees, a number of assisting measures were installed. This issue was met with a lot of sympathy at KFN. They also try to get a grip when it comes to the issue of invasive neophytes, a difficult task. Once these neophyte plants are established, it is next to impossible to get rid of them again.

What other chances does the environment protection policy of KFN offer nature?

Depending on the type of renaturation very different types of species can benefit. The quarry with its steep slopes and terraces is a huge, warm and dry biotope with semi-dry grassland and partially humid hollows and sinks. Lizards, snakes and several types of butterflies and other insects can benefit from this. This type of habitat is also attractive for many types of birds, such as Bonelli’s warblers, wallcreepers, crag martins, eagle-owls or different types of falcons. Currently, it may make sense not just to forest everything again, but to maintain this special biotope. It would offer some species a habitat that they have a hard time finding elsewhere in our intensively used landscape.