I HAVE FOUND, such an article only once in my life. What you are about to read appeared on Aeroports de Paris Magazine, March 2010. It is a bilingual edition an
it deals with landscape management, not the crappy one done in Puercorico but in
that city airport.
The height of the grass bordering airport runways and taxiways is important for air traffic safety. Mow it to a height below 20cm. and what you get is a perfect runway for birds. Leave it to grow taller than the regulation 40cm. and risk serious interference with radio frequencies. The key growing period for grass is between 15 April and 14 July. For those weeks, the 850 hectares of grass at Paris-Orly are mowed every
night by staff using amazing machines that can cut an 8.30 metre wide strip in a single pass.
Didier Velu (59) is a technical key member of the team. "Once it has been mowed, we clear the cut grass alongside runways to avoid the danger of it
getting blown all over the tarmac by jet engines. If that happened, the following aircraft wouldn't be able to take off. The cuttings are then recycled into compost in the green waste centre. Then, to make sure the engine exhausts don't destroy the grassland, we staple hessian and wire
mesh to the ground. This covering also protects underground power
cables from any soil subsidence caused by burrowing animals".
As he explains the aspects of his job, Didier Velu leaves no detail out. He
lists the species of bird - "magpies, rooks and crows" - whose droppings seed unwanted plants, which then have to be weeded out selectively.
He is also quick to add a caveat on the use of chemical weed killers.
"Their use is highly regulated".
The environment has never been more effectively protected. But the many and varied responsibilities of Didier and his team do not stop there.
During the bird migration seasons, Didier leads the hunt to prevent the danger of bird strikes and keep down the rabbit population - thanks to ferrets. Around 2,500 are caught every year. He also helps with runway
snow clearance when required, provides plants and flowers for the airport terminals of Aeroports de Paris, removes litter and keeps the joints in runway and taxiway surfaces clear of weeds over an area of 200
Didier Velu approaches nature and the cycles it imposes on us with a mixture of humility and technical skill. Both qualities are vital to success in a job that combines air safety with respect for the environment.
What is wrong with this picture? Using a lawnmower for an hour in your residence
leaves as much CO2, as driving your car for twenty miles. In Paris-Orly is done every
night, 850 hectares! Multiply the number for every, or most airports in the world, with grass. Add all GOLF courses in the world. All the commercial/residential lawns.
The result is CO2, tons and tons....But if you read carefully they are concerned about the environment regarding chemicals, weed killers...Is that ironic or what? That is my beef with everything... The living contradictions....
Want to follow up? In Puercorico, the Scubba Doggs, (some environmental scheme that is certainly making a buck somehow) picks up garbage under salty water and sand, in local beaches with volunteers. However, my concern is the water sewage and ECHOLI thrown in every possible context water wise, salty or not in Puercorico...by the AAA. How many times these exemplary citizens have addressed this public health/environmental issue? ZERO. That is that......