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Conservationists and environmental consultants will oversee LitPol Link construction
2014-05-20

Conservationists and environmental consultants will oversee LitPol Link construction

A campaign to protect wildlife habitats along the route of the Lithuania-Poland power link LitPol Link commenced this week. Prior to each stage of the construction, environmental consultants and conservationists will examine and monitor wildlife habitats in the area where the power link is being constructed.  Even if the construction works are deemed not to pose any threat to wildlife, all necessary measures aimed at reducing environmental impact will be implemented. The requirement to ensure wildlife protection throughout the entire construction period was included in the power link's environmental impact assessment study and technical specifications. 
 
Pursuant to the recommendation of the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention of the Council of Europe, a further study will be carried out next week to look into an endangered species of animals – European pond turtles.  This study will continue into late June which marks the end of turtle mating season when female turtles lay eggs. The study will be carried out by environmental consultants from the Lithuanian Fund for Nature in cooperation with the representatives of the Regional Environmental Protection Department, the Bern Convention Committee, and local residents. 
 
Litgrid, in cooperation with the ministries of Energy and Environment, will sum up the findings of the study and present them to the Bern Convention Committee by the end of August this year.  A study to look into pond turtles living in the area of LitPol Link's route was carried out back in 2013, however, none of these animals, which in the local vernacular are called "iron frogs", were found then.     
 
During the period of May 2014 to August 2015, when biodiversity studies and monitoring are to be carried out, the specialists of the Lithuanian Fund for Nature will pay regular visits to the construction site to identify areas inhabited by endangered plants and investigate biodiversity hotspots with an aim to protect rare animal species.   
 
Should even a single pond turtle hatchery be found, it will be cordoned off and the eggs, buried underground, will be protected not only from passing construction vehicles but also birds of prey and predators that often attack turtle nests.  Pond turtles live in damp places, shallow ponds, and marshes. These areas were intentionally avoided when designing the route for LitPol Link. Power line support structures are usually not built in marshes and since their construction doesn't require a large space they shouldn’t pose a threat to the habitats of pond turtles.  
 
Environmental consultants will advise the constructors of the power link on which areas to avoid when transporting the construction equipment and where building materials should temporarily be stored in order to minimise environmental damage. The consultants will monitor the entire route of the power line; their regular visits will be recorded and their findings will be documented.  
 
The construction work of LitPol Link in Lazdijai District, where pond turtles may possibly live, will start in October this year.  By this time the period of normal activity of pond turtles will be over and they will be preparing for hibernation. 
 
The construction work of LitPol Link in Alytus District starts this month. A 51 kilometre power line will stretch from the Alytus transformer substation to the Lithuania-Poland border. LitPol Link will start operating in December 2015. 
 
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