The Landscape and Ecology Mitigation Programme (LEMP), an important component of the Airport project, has from 1 January 2014 welcomed new Project Manager, Ross Towers (photo attached).
Ross is based at the Access Office and is contracted until 2016 to carry through the activities of the LEMP – aimed at lessening the impact of the construction of the Airport and associated works, through avoidance, reduction and offsetting.
“On the ground, the LEMP will focus on habitat restoration, creation, and landscaping to provide compensatory habitats and landscape treatment to reduce and offset the permanent direct loss of habitat and the direct and indirect impacts on the landscape, as a result of constructing the Airport and supporting infrastructure.”
The LEMP project will involve the surveying of important habitats and species to ensure their protection, the growing and planting of tens of thousands of endemic and native plants, earthworks (mounding and earth shaping) to complement the landscape and the removal of non-native invasive flora and fauna – just a few of LEMP’s activities.
“In the first instance the LEMP will safeguard existing habitats and landscapes where possible. Where this is not possible, it will seek to mitigate against those lost to the Airport footprint for the benefit of people and wildlife.”
As the LEMP Project Manager, Ross will coordinate and facilitate LEMP partners (SHG, St Helena National Trust, SHAPE, the private sector and local community) in delivering the goals and aspirations of the programme. Through the bringing together of all available knowledge, expertise and opinion, balanced against the resources and timescales faced by the LEMP, it is hoped to deliver the best value-for-money results for the environment and the people of St Helena.
The LEMP has a legal requirement for the completion of the Airport project which Ross explains will significantly impact on the legacy which the construction leaves behind: “How will the landscape change as a result of the airport and how would St Helena like it to look in 5, 10, or 20 years time? The LEMP will impact the way the affected lands will look, and ecologically evolve, for generations to come.”
Also arising from the LEMP project will be the creation of several new jobs on-Island. Roles will focus on practical activities, such as seed collecting, propagating (growing) endemic and native plants, the removal of invasive non-native species, and eventually the planting of plants. The LEMP is also keen to build on and facilitate the efforts of others by developing areas of mutual benefit, such as composting of green waste and recycling.
The LEMP started in 2008 and, as with the rest of the Airport project, was put on hold in 2009. It recommenced in 2013 and must now hit the ground running in 2014 to make the most of the opportunities presenting themselves. To date, a great deal of work has taken place on designing the LEMP in conjunction with the Airport project, but there is still a great deal to do.
Initially, Ross will be focusing his efforts on agreeing areas of work with partners and facilitating the up-scaling of current resources, such as increasing the facilities for the tree nurseries at Scotland and the Millennium Forest, and recruitment for environmental roles.
21 January 2014