Sustainability in Springtime
Sustainability is at the heart of Project Allenby/Connaught and, with the arrival of Spring, Aspire Defence Capital Works has been involved in two conservation initiatives on the defence estate.
With the bird nesting season now in full swing, contractors for Aspire Defence Capital Works (ADCW) are being advised to take extra care while working on construction sites for the Army Basing Programme (ABP) which is being delivered as part of the Project Allenby/Connaught contract.
It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to disturb nesting birds, eggs and chicks. The law prevents damaging or destroying nests while they are being built or in use, disturbing nesting birds and removing, destroying or taking eggs and young birds from nests.
David Keeble from the ADCW Environment Team explained:
“Fortunately, there are several measures we can take to minimise the risk of disrupting nests during construction work,” explained David Keeble from the ADCW Environment Team. Netting installed on assets to be demolished or altered during the nesting season will discourage most species from nesting on or within these buildings. We also make sure we prevent birds entering buildings by closing doors, windows and other holes in the fabric at the end of the working day.”
On new ABP builds, areas of open access and recesses are blocked with boarding or plastic sheeting; shiny CDs and silver foil are also sometimes hung on scaffolding to discourage birds from nesting in quieter areas (see photo).
“Although no works that disturb the nesting birds should be undertaken until the young have fledged, solutions to prevent delay to our construction programme often involve only minor changes to our working practices.”
In other sustainability news…
On a cold snowy day in March a team from Aspire Defence Capital Works (ADCW) and Aspire Defence Services Limited (ADSL) helped plant a new batch of disease resistant elm trees at Hexagon Wood, south of the Packway and close to Larkhill Garrison (see photo).
The trees were dug in by Mike Lockwood, Dimensional Control Manager (ADCW), and Martin Steele, Tree Surveyor Salisbury Plain (ADSL), with two members of Martin’s team helping to carry equipment and do the staking.
In the nineteenth century the elm was one of the most distinctive English countryside trees but by the 1940s, Dutch elm disease had caused losses of up to 40% of elms in a number of European countries. A second more destructive outbreak began in the 1960s and within a decade, about 20 million elms out of an estimated UK elm population of 30 million were dead.
“When an English elm is killed by the disease, some roots remain alive and new elms regenerate from these. Unfortunately, once the saplings reach a certain size, they can be detected by beetles which spread the fungus and many of them become infected. There is no effective cure but early felling or removal of infected trees and branches can slow the spread of the disease.”
The Royal Horticultural Society advises that native elms should not be planted in the UK because they will almost inevitably die. However, some disease resistant hybrid elms are becoming available and last year, ADCW took part in a similar elm planting initiative at Beacon Hill, Bulford. Landscape planting for the new Larkhill Medical and Dental Centre, being delivered by ADCW for the ABP, will also incorporate a group of nine hybrid elms.
“All these trees will hopefully develop a positive, lasting legacy, living healthily for many years and safeguarding important species including the rare White-letter Hairstreak butterfly, which is under threat because Dutch elm disease has caused its only habitat to virtually disappear.”