Environmental Conservation Measures Succeeding in Kurgalsky Reserve
- Relocated protected plants are vegetating and blooming
- White tailed eagle is incubating eggs in her previous nest
- Nord Stream 2 continues to fulfil its commitments to the Kurgalsky reserve through ongoing conservation and offset programme
May 17, 2019 | St Petersburg, Russia | Nord Stream 2 AG, the developer of a new natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea to supply Russian gas to the key EU market, is pleased to report that its environmental conservation measures at the Russian landfall are showing early signs of success.
As part of ongoing environmental monitoring, Nord Stream 2 and ECOPROJECT, an environmental and nature conservation consultancy, have reported that the protected plant species relocated in 2018 in accordance with Russian legislation are recovering well; early signs of success are seen in new vegetation, some are blooming and they are generally prospering. An onsite inspection carried out by the responsible authorities on May 17 has confirmed the results.
Feydor Stulov, Head of Directorate at the Committee for Natural Resources (CNR) of the Leningrad region, said: “Following several onsite inspections in 2018 and now, with the start of new season, we can confirm that the relocation of protected plant species is successful, in line with the respective permits and the requirements of Russian legislation.”
In addition to the positive results related to plants, ornithological monitoring and drone footage have also confirmed that the protected white tailed eagle is incubating eggs in her original nest near the construction corridor. Experts assess that the eagle is undisturbed by construction works thanks to the measures taken by the company to ensure its wellbeing.
Vasily Pchelintsev, Chief Specialist at ECOPROJECT, noted: “We have been monitoring how white-tailed eagles breed in the Kurgalsky reserve on an ongoing basis. The couple of eagles in question, with the nest near the construction corridor, have begun reproducing. This is an entirely ordinary breeding period for this species, and the female is currently incubating her eggs. We will continue to observe and assess how the breeding process is progressing."
As a responsible project developer, Nord Stream 2 is implementing a broad range of measures to mitigate, compensate and offset potential impacts on the environment in line with Russian legislation and international standards. As such, the innovative construction solution developed specifically for crossing the Kurgalsky reserve (for more details please see: Onshore construction in Russia) allows to reduce the width of trenches and construction corridor and related impacts by some 50 percent compared to the conventional construction methodology.
In the most sensitive area of the coastal forest, the construction is performed only within the narrowest feasible construction corridor with a width of 30 metres. The pipelines will be installed by pulling the two strings in a flooded trench, which requires very limited equipment on site for pipeline installation, significantly lowering noise emissions and associated disturbances. The optimised construction schedule takes into account the critical periods for marine mammals, fish and birds. Monitoring of protected plant species outside the construction corridor is ongoing.
Gregory Vilchek, Permitting Manager Russia at Nord Stream 2 AG, said: “All of our mitigation measures are based on international expert advice and local specialist experience. For example, relocation of moss Aulacomnium androgynum required special methodology; it was performed manually under the supervision of experts from the Komarov Botanical Institute. We are very happy with the results observed this spring and we will continue to fulfil our responsibilities to this protected area going forward.”
Nord Stream 2 is committed to ensuring the highest environmental standards beyond the requirements of national legislation with its robust corporate governance, internal control and multi-level external oversight system. Сonstruction activities are being monitored by the competent authorities and three independent watchdogs. Project activities within the Kurgalsky reserve are being audited by VNII Ecology, a prominent Russian research institute with special expertise on the management of protected areas. Royal Haskoning DHV, a leading international engineering and environmental consultancy, is retained as a watchdog to ensure compliance with international standards. ERM, a global provider of environmental, health, safety, risk, and social consulting services, regularly audits the works against the project Environmental and Social Management System.
In addition to Russian regulatory requirements, the company is implementing a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) for the Kurgalsky reserve, which includes a wide range of activities that aim to achieve a net gain for the Kurgalsky reserve beyond the project footprint, as required by international standards.