Marking trees for protection, 2007. Photo: Agence Iter France.
The site chosen for the ITER project is a parcel of about 180 hectares located within a forested zone that covers 1,600 hectares. Careful studies were carried out to identify the biodiversity on the ITER parcel and to recommend measures to limit the environmental impact of construction.
In all, 39 protected or rare species will benefit from preservation measures on the ITER site, following the recommendations of experts in forestry, fauna, and flora. Two areas have been fenced off permanently as "protected zones"; the Occitan cricket, two species of butterfly, woodlark nesting sites, and rare orchids will all be protected within these areas.
Older trees were singled out for protection prior to site clearing. Some oak trees that were found to house the Great Capricorn beetle—a protected species in Europe—were transferred and grafted onto younger trees in order to preserve the larvae in their trunks. Nesting areas for birds and bats were mapped out, and site clearing activities were authorized outside of nesting periods only.
About half of the 180-hectare ITER site was preserved in its wooded state. Trees cleared from the other half were re-employed for millwork or for heating. In some instances, building plans were modified to accommodate recommendations made by the environmental studies: a projected water treatment plant and control basins were moved to a new area, for example, following the creation of the protected zones. In all, the cost of environmental and protective measures is estimated at two million euros.
Of the 2.5 million cubic metres of earth and rock moved to excavate the ITER platform, over two-thirds were re-employed on site. The remaining material has been stored on site, and will be entirely replanted at the end of construction.