January 15 2014

Line B for Biodiversity: Installing a New Metro Line in Rennes, Brittany, France

A park in Rennes, France.

What kind of environmental impact will the new B Line of the Rennes Metro have? What kind of “compensatory” measures will be put in place for the local fauna? All throughout the construction site, an ecologist is tasked with the analysis and protection of ecosystems.

After civil engineering comes environmental engineering. At the construction site for the B Line of the metro, an in-depth examination about its environmental impact will be carried out. Which species will be disturbed by the metro passage? How can these problems be resolved? Paul Bernard is an ecologist for DM Eau, a company that is joining Semtcar in the process of ecological monitoring. “Our profession is not new, but it is becoming broader in scope. We evaluate the project’s negative impact on biodiversity, then we propose compensatory measures, techniques for improving the natural habitats of threatened species.”

The tunnel section beneath the downtown area will only have a very small impact on the environment. The affected zones are located at the far ends, in Saint-Jacques and in Courrouze (a cut-and-cover tunnel) and also in Longs Champs and in Cesson-Sévigné. “From now on, the law requires a process of ecological monitoring that can be summarized as ‘avoid, reduce, and offset.’ A natural habitat can only be eliminated if it is impossible to do things differently. Everything must be justified by the National Council for the Protection of Nature,” explains Paul Bernard.

A pond in Rennes, France.

Making Up for 1,000 Trees to be Cut Down

If the analysis of Line B’s path did not reveal any challenges vis-à-vis the flora, the case for local fauna was another story. In Rennes, many protected species of birds will be disturbed: chickadees, robins, woodpeckers, sparrows, as well as flying mammals like bats. “More than 1,000 trees are going to have to be cut down throughout the city. It will be necessary to recreate this habitat. The other species affected include amphibians (newts, salamanders, frogs), hedgehogs, squirrels, lizards, and insects like the longhorn beetle.

DM Eau have made a number of suggestions, such as setting up nest boxes for the species living in a wooded area, putting up fences to prevent access to the construction site, landscape support for the viaduct, the creation of a pond near the future garage-studio La Maltière… “More than seventeen hectares will be developed near the proposed layout, to which it will be necessary to add 8.5 hectares of open area or semi-open (prairies, groves, etc) area. In other words, more than twenty-five hectares of ecological environment altogether.

All of this has a cost, “to be judiciously taken on,” assured Thierry Courrau, spokesperson for Semtcar. The deal with DM Eau adds up to 200,000 euros and all suggestions made by the ecological engineer have yet to be calculated but, according to him, it could come to “more than a million euros.” There’s no joking around when it comes to environmental protection.

How large of a priority should ecological concerns be for infrastructure projects? Should environmental engineering necessarily be subordinated to other concerns in all cases?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Marcus Khoury

Marcus Khoury is a recent graduate of the University of California Los Angeles, where he obtained a B.A. in French & Francophone Studies. Aside from his native Michigan, Marcus has lived in several states, in addition to France and Chile. Owing to his experiences with a variety of cultures, languages, and environments, he has always been keenly interested in how the exchange of ideas between different cities, regions, and countries helps to shape both physical and cultural landscapes. His linguistic background, in addition to his interest in the diversity of international urban environments and experiences, has led Marcus to fill the position of French Language Translator at The Grid, where he will be translating and presenting French language material involving environmental design.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 at 9:24 am and is filed under Engineering, Environment, Infrastructure, Land Use, Marcus Khoury, Transportation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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