Spanning the globe with frequent and once in a while readers. I am interested in collecting, propagating plants, landscape management practices, ecology, environment, flora/fauna, in essence Nature. This blog is written in a blunt, abrasive fashion with consistent critical views on these subjects and others that may be related...or not.

domingo, 4 de abril de 2010


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......

6 comentarios:

Beato dijo...

Interesting read. Those machines must be huge! To cover 8,500,000 sq meters every night with machines that have cutters 8.3 m wide implies running around 1,000 km with several units with 10 hours (100km/h; if one unit covers 2 km/h then 50 units?) Something is off here. If it were like 5 units it would be more reasonable.
They can't possibly cover the whole area overnight. Instead they must have a schedule for the area based on the 20 - 40 cm grass height range, with emphasis on the 40 cm limit...Therefore covering the 850 ha in about a 1.5 - 2 week period. You may know this time period better than me...I just saw the areas and started calculating.
Anyway, it does generate a large carbon footprint. They must have the CO2 emissions somewhere, GHG Emission surveys are commonplace in Europe.
But it is as you say. The mentality is:
'The problem is not CO2, that is an industry problem and a result of Bush Cheney Shananigans. The problem are those pesky pesticides...they live on forever. I control the pesticides and then 'aucun probleme'.
I know golf courses use obscenely large amounts of chemical pesticides because they cannot have any 'malhojillo' in that turf. But the French turf is relatively tall grass, for buffer, not for show...Does Puerto Rico nuke the buffer zone of the LMM airport with pesticides every few weeks? I doubt it.
On other subjects Scuba Dogs does get good press out of these outings...they may even get some corporate sponsorship. I don't think they wish to damage relationships with AAA and lose presence in goverment sponsored activities. Their function is to educate, at an elementary level ('corporations pollute, we don't because we recycle cans').
I rather have a group of high school and university level students doing constant Coliform monitoring on beaches and baseline conditions (pH, Temperature, Dissolved Oxygen) around their neighborhood watersheds than plain junk collection. But this won't happen, it implies labor.

Antigonum Cajan dijo...

Interesting focus/perspective. The absurdity of it all. These reel gang mowers are stacked one beside he other, pulled by a tractor. One can use them all as wide as possible or less. You may check them out in TURF Magazine.

What can I add, you covered the whole court. I appreciate your in depth feedback.

Your words about the water make lots of sense. It would be doing something beyond superficial aesthetic issues with public health in mind.

Golf destroys all Flora/Fauna since that need of a perfect turf requires the killing or elimination of other plants/creatures with fertilizer,insecticide, pesticide and fungicide without any government
controls in Puercorico.

The aquatic dogs avoid some cleaning, the meaningful kind. CANHO Martin Penha, never crosses their mind for an advertising photo op.

It is a real shame that all those people
into the environmental bandwagon, have never thought about doing something that trascends.

All I see, read, watch is superficial. An opportunity to have
ones picture on the news.

I agree with you. It wont happen
since it requires real work.

Steve Asbell dijo...

Hey, I nominated you for a few Mouse and trowel awards such as best garden design blog, urban blog, and best writing. Your posts are always so passionate and energetic... plus you don't really give a damn about what people think. That being said, I think your blog's great!
Oh and by the way, golf courses need to be banned someday, if only people could get over hitting a ball around a destroyed landscape that is...

Antigonum Cajan dijo...


Such compliment from someone
who practices horticulture critically
and with consistence is flattering.

On the other hand, I think GOLFERS,
designers of golf courses, owners, construction companies should be treated just like TOBACCO enterprises
and smokers, considering the damage
done to others, Flora/Fauna. Think just of the water waste and oil, gas, chemicals to keep the turf lush, perfect.

For what? to sink the cute little ball in a hole?

Stephanie dijo...

Antigonum, the 'green call' should fall back to the policy makers (government!) to implement policies that truely protects the environment. I am still not coping very well with 'no plastic' day. Why can't they implement policy to say all plastic bags should be recyclable?

Nonetheless, have a pleasant evening!

Antigonum Cajan dijo...

In Puercorico, legislation/tribunals/governmenet agecies created to protect the environment/public health are in the market for the best buyer.

They take bribes or request them openly. What you propose does not make money for them here or in your country, or any country.

That is why.