Projects in the World - Another Olympiad in London Consideration from a Conservation Perspective
London Olympic Games 2012 has just finished in a tidal wave of enthusiasm. Although the Olympic Games are primarily about sport and strenuous activity, they are also being used as a vehicle to highlight a cultural side to life in all parts of the UK. Cultural Olympiad 2012 (The London 2012 Festival) held across the UK in conjunction with the Olympic Games is a nationwide festival.
Working with Peace Camp, I was involved in the festival as the consultant ecologist to contribute to the conservation of the sites. All of the sites were either Scheduled Ancient Monuments containing very important archaeology, or Sites of Special Scientific Interest, which are designated for important biodiversity or geology, or had both designations.
Along with the London Olympic Games, the Cultural Olympiad was held in a sustainable way by encouraging people to use public transport and the tents and equipment are all being used again, and nature conservation where we worked hard to ensure no damage was done.
A few examples at sites are as follows.
At Cuckmere Haven in Sussex the site was chalk grassland and had a very rare insect, the potter flower bee (Anthophora retusa), living in the cliffs a few 100m away- we had to convince the statutory authorities that the flight time of the bee was finished and that the tents would not damage the grassland for the short time they were present.
At Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland we had a combination of SAM for part of the outskirts of the Castle and SSSI for maritime grassland. For the SAM we situated the tents as far as possible from the sensitive archaeology and agreed to use only 15cm tent pegs to prevent damage, and for the SSSI the most sensitive sections of grassland were just above the coastal rocks, again the tents were moved and we constantly monitored visitor numbers and would change the routes through the tents if the ground looked like it would be damaged.
Godrevy Island in Cornwall is a small island off the north coast- a home to breeding gulls and one of the few places the Atlantic grey seal breeds and roosts when not feeding. At Godrevy we worked with the land owner, the seal group and the statutory agency to restrict helicopter flights to high tide, when the seals would not be hauled out, and also employed a specialist bird ecologist to advise on location on nests and young nearly fledged chicks.
On a small island with a relatively high population of people there are always going to be locations where multiple issues need to be addressed- where we do not want to damage the biodiversity but also allow cultural activities which are enhanced by being in these wonderful natural places.
With a lot of effort, knowledge of vulnerable stages in life cycle, negotiation, tact and diplomacy there can be this mix of activities when all the conditions come together.
For Peace Camp, the results were beautiful and moving, and many people enjoyed and were enriched by the experience.
About the author
Freelance project manager/ecological consultant
1.Seaford Head Nature Reserve at Cuckmere Haven, Sussex, UK- this area is chalk grassland- a rare habitat now in the South Downs as this well-drained soil is also excellent for growing arable crops such as barley- in the background are the famous are part of the ‘Seven Sisters’ chalk cliffs. (copyright Matthew Andrews 2012 of Peace Camp)
2.This photo was taken from the ramparts of Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland- species living here have a high tolerance of salt spray.(copyright Matthew Andrews 2012 of Peace Camp)