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A BOARDWALK FOR NATURE CONSERVATION

16.06.17 - LIK.Nord is not just an abbreviation for "Landschaft der Industriekultur Nord" (Northern Landscape of Industrial Culture), a large and unique nature conservation project in the Saarland federal state in Germany; it also stands for the LIK.Nord "Zweckverband" or "administrative union". The mining, iron and steel industries have had a strong influence on shaping the region between Neunkirchen and Illingen at the heart of the Saarland for many decades. The decline of these industries left a vacuum for people and nature alike. Naturally, nature fought back and amassed valuable potential which is now to be developed, used and preserved for humans. Heinitz, the former mining centre in Neunkirchen, is an outstanding example of the new landscape of industrial culture. It lies together with its former mines at the heart of one of the key areas of the LIK.Nord – the "post-mining landscape" countryside laboratory. These sites are typified by artificial ponds, which were once used to cool steam engines and compressors, and now host unique and rare flora and fauna.

BUILDING A BOARDWALK
The newly created "12 pond path" here leads through multiple valleys, including along the valley of the fifth pond, the Weilerbachtal. And it is at this point that the path becomes extra special. It guides you along a 170 metre-long boardwalk and traverses a sensitive wetland. Constructed by the company Hoffmann Bau GmbH from Merzig, its pile foundations were bored using a GRUNDOMAT160P soil displacement hammer in a vertical direction.

The predetermined conditions, such as
  • the 170 m total length of the path
  • the limited space
  • the relatively soft subsoil (natural soil)
  • the sensitive ecosystem (rare plants, endangered species of insects and amphibians)
  • the nearby edge of the pond
  • the existing narrow track
made equally high demands of the machines (mini excavator, soil displacement hammer) and construction materials (piles, timber) used. A total of 330 weather-proof and rot-free ND 160 mm piles made from recycled plastic and measuring 2-3 metres long were rammed vertically into the ground along the 170 metre-long path. The standard GRUNDOMAT160P with high-performance stepped head and servo control was used to bore the foundations. The average boring time per pile was approximately 10 to 12 minutes.

The base was mounted on top of the piles, on top of which the boards were laid and in a final step a small platform with wooden benches was built over the water – all using certified Douglas fir timber.

If nothing else, the boardwalk's sturdy pile foundations ensure safe passage through the head-high reeds and protect a unique habitat.
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