3 conservation projects underscore global airports’ environmental sustainability efforts

In honor of Earth Day, we at Cargo Airport News have identified three environmental sustainability projects at airports around the globe. These projects include:  

#3: Frankfurt (FRA) cultivates and reforests surrounding land 

#2: Hong Kong (HKG) supports local sustainability projects with environmental fund 

#1: Los Angeles (LAX) restores coastal sand dunes  

Click on to read more about these sustainability projects. 

#3: Frankfurt (FRA) cultivates and reforests surrounding land 

Frankfurt Airport (FRA) has long worked to balance the activity at its airport by undertaking environmental sustainability programs. As one of its major initiatives, Fraport AG has worked to reforest and develop near-natural biotopes in 13 areas in the Frankfurt/Rhine-Main region –including its reforestation projects at Hohenaue Natural Conservation Area and Hofgut Schönau Area.  

One of the airport’s first reforestation projects was its Hohenaue Natural Conservation Area. The airport began reforesting the area in the 1990s after purchasing the former agricultural property in 1991. Soft and hard woods, native to water meadows, were planted on the terrain to allow a new woodland area to emerge. Additionally, FRA developed a designated scenic trail that is regularly cultivated, with information boards for visitors to learn about the flora and fauna in the area. In 1998, Hohenaue was declared a natural conservation area by Germany and was incorporated into further development of alluvial forest in the regions of Langenau/NonnenauKornsand-Nord, and Rockenwörth/Rauchenau in 2007.  

In the mid-2000s, FRA began reforesting 21 hectares of land as project Hofgut Schönau in Rüsselsheim district adjacent to the airport to create a new site for mixed deciduous forest – FRA planted over 130,000 trees and 10,000 shrubs, including oak, beech, cherry and common walnut trees. The area contains upstream grasslands and a pond to provide a spawning ground for dragonflies and amphibians. 

The airport has also cultivated existing deciduous forestland in Mönchbruch, to develop a suitable habitat for the protection of species, like Bechstin’s bat and stag beetles. To support this habitat, FRA kept the area free of non-indigenous plant growth to ensure the preservation of the forest’s multi-layer distributed growth, including old and deadwood. FRA also mounted bat-nesting boxes in suitable places with little deadwood. 

As of 2017, FRA said in its Environmental Statement Report that it has nearly entirely implemented its reforestation project measures. Fraport conducted a monitoring program in 2016, and wildlife species in its forests are thriving. 

#2: Hong Kong (HKG) supports local sustainability projects with environmental fund

In addition to its efforts at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) to reduce its environmental footprint, Hong Kong Airport Authority (HKAA) supports the initiatives and activities of local non-profit organizations promoting environmental protection in Hong Kong through its Environmental Fund. 

HKAA established the Hong Kong International Airport Environmental Fund in 2011, and has awarded the fund to a variety of initiatives focused on environmental sustainability, including the conservation and research of Chinese white dolphins, the monitoring of Lantau sea grass coverage and the monitoring of terrestrial non-native insect species in Hong Kong. 

Most recently, HKAA awarded non-profit Green Power Limited over US$4 million in funding for its In-To Tung Chung River Project. The project aims to conserve the biodiversity of Tung Chung River through regular water quality and ecological monitoring, as well as public engagement program. Funding for the program began in March 2018 and will continue through March 2021. 

Tung Chung River is one of Hong Kong’s few natural rivers with good water quality, is the main water supply for Shek Pik Reservoir and has high ecological value. It is home to several native freshwater fish species, including the rare Acrossocheilus beijiangensis. Mangrove forest and mudflats along the river estuary also provide a habitat for other wildlife species. 


#1: LAX restores coastal sand dunes  

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), which owns and operates Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), pursues a variety of sustainability initiatives in support of the environment, from energy stewardship to water conservation. One of its most interesting projects, however, is its initiative to restore coastal dunes adjacent to the airport. 

In 2013, LAWA began its Coastal Dunes Improvement Project to restore 302-acres of sand dunes located between the west end of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and the Pacific Ocean. These LAX sand dunes represent the largest remaining sand dune zone in Southern California. The site provides a habitat for over 900 species, including the endangered El Segundo Blue Butterfly, Blainville’s horned lizard and Southern California legless lizard, among other rare plant animal and insect species. 

To support biodiversity in this region, LAWA has worked to protect and manage the habitat through removal of invasive plants, weeds and trash. LAWA also removed abandoned streets, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, retaining walls, foundations and above ground utilities left from an abandoned residential settlement and subsequently planted native coastal dune and coastal prairie vegetation in these areas. 

In 2018, a five-year post-restoration assessment showed the area contained predominantly native vegetation and unvegetated sand and supports native wildlife. LAWA maintains these sustainability efforts in the area through the continued organization of community events for the removal of non-native and invasive vegetation. 

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