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Wildlife is recruited for the Hamina-Vaalimaa road maintenance contract, as bees will be brought to pollinate the food plants of rare butterflies in summer 2022.
The maintenance of the Hamina-Vaalimaa motorway is subject to a number of environmental monitoring obligations, but in addition to these, we also work for a better environment on our own initiative.
“Next summer, we will bring beehives to the area from a local beekeeper. We will place them on high ground so that the bees' flight path to the hive is high enough and they won't hit cars driving on the road. Maintaining the beehives will also be safe at the chosen location,” says Teemu Lavikka, Site Manager at YIT.
The experiment, devised together with the customer, will help improve the living conditions of rare insects, as the bees pollinate food plants growing on the sun-scorched slopes and elsewhere in the area. When bees pollinate plants, the plants can reproduce and provide more food for insects, such as rare butterflies. Some butterfly species feed only on certain plants. A guaranteed food supply also improves the butterflies' chances of reproducing, thus increasing the species' chances of survival.
“The number of pollinators has decreased quite a lot. So, in this way, we are able to help the environment. The location is also good for the bees as there is a varied environment nearby, with marshland, hillsides, fields and forests,” says Teemu Lavikka.
We have also considered bringing in sheep to manage the green areas, but this is still being investigated, as it is essential to ensure road safety. In addition, there are plans to replace the high pressure sodium lamps with LED luminaires on the road section. This has been calculated to be an economically viable option, potentially reducing power consumption by up to 70–80%.
“The lighting on the motorway is operated by a twilight switch, but in the tunnels the lights are never switched off. Replacing the lamps will, of course, cost money, but as this is a long project, it will be viable,” says Lavikka.
Teemu Lavikka has also helped birds find nesting cavities in trees felled by storms. During construction, patches of woodland were left standing along the motorway ramps. Storms have since felled some of the trees and in the trunks of those trees Lavikka has prepared nesting cavities for birds and re-erected the trunks.
Teemu Lavikka says that they are free to come up with different ideas at the project.
“We have good managers at YIT who support us. In addition, our funders are also very supportive of our ideas.”
Our customer also includes monitoring obligations that contribute to the better health of nature. These include insect, fish and plant surveys. Long-term chloride measurements are also taken in the area’s groundwater in order to monitor the impact of road salt on groundwater quality. In addition, the adaptation of bats and flying squirrels to the new habitat has been monitored since construction. The monitoring is supervised by the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment and the work is commissioned from contractors specialising in monitoring.
“Both species seem to have adapted to the changes quite well,” says Teemu Lavikka, Site Manager at YIT.
The customer of the Hamina-Vaalimaa road section is the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, the service provider is Tieyhtiö Vaalimaa Oy, the financier is Meridiam and the main contractor is YIT. The contract area of the public-private-partnership (PPP) road stretches from the Russian border to Lelu in Hamina with a length of approximately 32 kilometres. In addition, there are about 10 km of roads connected to the motorway, pedestrian and bicycle lanes and the Vaalimaa tunnel. We will maintain the Hamina-Vaalimaa motorway, completed in 2018, until 2034.