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Meeting environmental challenges

02/06/2013

The Company is working actively on three environmental projects in Canada, Costa Rica and Spain. They set out to meet the challenge of environmental protection and intend to protect threatened species and spaces.

The Company is working actively on three environmental projects in Canada, Costa Rica and Spain. They set out to meet the challenge of environmental protection and intend to protect threatened species and spaces.

The fight on climate change and the need to protect the environment are two essential drivers of ACCIONA's environmental strategy. One of the inherent features of this philosophy is the end-to-end treatment of the Company's impact on the environment, firstly by adopting a preventive approach, then correcting unavoidable impacts and finally offsetting residual effects. To achieve this, we go to great lengths to ensure that our actions always lead to the overall and measurable improvement of the natural surroundings.

At ACCIONA, we are also convinced that the conservation and responsible use of our natural heritage and biodiversity are not only ethically binding, but also an indispensable prerequisite for global sustainability. Environmental preservation is beyond all question, and to underline this we'd like to take this opportunity to present three initiatives that face the challenge posed by environmental preservation.

Windsor-Essex Parkway (Canada)

When ACCIONA Infraestructuras, as part of a consortium, was awarded a build contract for a new roadway between the cities of Windsor (Canada) and Detroit (USA), the project brought with it a number of technical and environmental challenges.

praderas húmedas canadá

The project is a complex one and requires measures aimed at protecting biodiversity and for maintaining and improving a number of environmental factors before the work actually gets under way. It involves taking action to save local endangered species and reproduce the most relevant wildlife habitats in the so-called wetland areas, which are of enormous environmental value and which have been on the wane across North America over the past few hundred years.

Above, regenerated primitive ecosystems, such as Canada's wetlands, are of enormous environmental value. Below, snakes were radiotagged for control and monitoring purposes. The picture shows an Eastern Fox snake (Canada).
Protected fauna (Easthern foxsnake) from Canada

We're currently busy working on reproducing local native flora, with a view to increasing their presence. But fauna is important too, and one of our prime objectives is to protect two endangered serpent species, namely the Eastern Fox Snake (Elaphe gloydi) and Butler's Gartersnake (Thamnophis butleri), by replicating their habitat and carrying out control and monitoring activity.

Accordingly, we've set up a rescue, capture and relocation system and a number of snakes have been radiotagged. All the snakes captured are resettled beyond the radius of the construction site. One of the most outstanding actions involved setting up special hibernation points where these endangered snakes can spend the winter months. Local residents are taking part in efforts to increase local flora by recovering ages-old customs and traditions. Information sessions are held locally, specific dossiers are published to provide information on progress and outline the environmental values that the project is seeking to protect. There's even a website (updated daily): http://www.weparkway.ca.

Environmental Impact Study: Brunca International Airport (Costa Rica)

ACCIONA Engineering, in partnership with the local company INFOREST, is drafting an Environmental, Economic and Social Impact Report on the new International Airport planned for the region of Brunca, in Costa Rica. The airport's potential impact on the region calls for detailed knowledge and extensive experience in evaluating the environmental consequences.

The local surroundings make it hard to carry out this study. The site of the new airport is between the Diquis Delta, made up of the Rivers Sierpe and Térraba. Not far is the Térrabe-Sierpe National Wetlands Park (a Ramsar Convention listed site), one of the Central American Pacific region's most important mangroves. The proximity of the protected spaces and the abundant local birdlife need to be considered closely when it comes to managing the airport's surrounding area. One of the major challenges will be to successfully manage the affected territory, enhancing the conservation of biodiversity while ensuring air traffic safety.

Costa Rica
Protected bird specie
Above left, an aerial view of the site of the future airport in Costa Rica. Above right, a Bare-throated Tiger Heron (Tigrisoma mexicanum), found widely throughout Cost Rica. Below left, a mangrove on the Sierpe River (Costa Rica). Below right, the Eastern prairie white fringed orchid (Platanthera leucophaea) is one of several orchids to be found in Canada's wetlands.
Mangrove from Costa Rica
Protected Orchid from Canda

The regional and local socio-economic variable is another fundamental aspect that needs to be considered; tracking aircraft noise and exhaust emissions levels and gauging the impact on the territory of changes in land use.

Restoration of bog land and creating wetlands (Spain)

Bogs are a kind of acidic wetlands where organic material has accumulated. The UE has given them "Community Interest" and "Priority" status. They are important because they carry out a number of important environmental functions: they regulate climate change, hydrological conditions, water quality and erosive processes, and they important for ensuring biodiversity. In the central Spanish province of Burgos, ACCIONA Environment Services has restored bogland in Basconcillos del Tozo and wetlands in Úrbel del Castillo, thus helping to recover singular wildlife habitats of great importance to local biodiversity.

To achieve this required a number of measures: building a one-hectare laguna by recovering a formerly floodable space; recovering a major, 13-hectare expanse of bog land; creating several lagunas along the course of the River Úrbel, recovering an extension of bog land and improving the area surrounding La Piedra.

ecosistemas turberas España

Old orthoimages were used to analyze the local orography and hydrological conditions, which showed how the recovery of the bog lands had helped to restore the original water flow, which, in turn, helped to regenerate local plant life, in particular two endangered species: the common sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) and the spoonleaf sundew (Drosera intermedia). In addition, pools were created to recover local wildlife and to improve local livestock farming conditions.

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