Some of our pits operate on naturally protected zones or in their vicinity. It is worth mentioning that in most of cases these zones were established during the mining activity. This proves that the extraction of raw materials and their processing does not affect the object and purposes of protection, as well as the integrity and connection with the adjacent protected areas. It is due to the application of environment-friendly technologies that the scope of impact is practically restricted to the very pit and plant. In addition, along forests and water basins adjacent to the seams, protective zones are created (part of resources is excluded from mining).

Pits can be easily inhabited by populations of numerous mammals, birds, fish and other animals. As early as in the mining period, various species reside in the pit area, seeking for prey or shelter. It is worth adding that unauthorised access to mining areas is prohibited, thus preventing animals from being disturbed or fished. After the decommissioning of the plant and recultivationpermanent flora and fauna habitats are created, whereas the new ecosystems are much more abundant than the original ones, and the pits (both dry and naturally flooded) undoubtedly contribute to the overall landscape.

Especially the variety of birds, including protected species, is quite remarkable, as it includes: white-tailed eagle, common shelduck, oystercatcher, little and common ringed plover, little and common tern, sand martin, wheatear and many others. According to independent ornitologic research, gravel pits and post-mining grounds provide the most suitable habitat for these rare species of the entire region. This indicates directly a lack of significant impact and even a positive interrelation between our activity and natural environment, particularly in terms of special bird protection and habitat zones of the Natura 2000 network. The steep slopes of pits and isles on mining basins provide a fine environment for nesting, as it is duly considered during the stage of technical recultivation.

Also the value of unanimated nature is well-attended. In some pits it is possible to observe the geological profiles, representing classical forms of the glacial period (one of such sites in Storkowo was included in the scope of natural protection). Furthermore, within youngest sediments, fossil tree trunks (dark oaks)may be found. While performing preliminary works, sporadically other palaeontological or archaeological findings are detected (e.g. mammoth remains), whereupon the works in the respective area are suspended until such objects are secured and removed.

Detailed mapping of species on the areas planned for development is also performed within the environmental impact reports which are currently prepared by Regional Environmental Directorates (subordinate to Voivodeship Environment Inspectors). In terms of environmental protection we cooperate among others with directors of landscape parks, Western-Pomeranian Nature Association and the National Geology Institute. It is necessary to add that post-mining areas may be included in statutory protected natural areas (ecological utilities, observation posts and other), bringing about a remarkable educational and scientific potential also in terms of tourism and sightseeing.

Polish ebony – trunk of a fossil oak dating back few thousand years (Gorzupia gravel pit)