Five years ago ACCIONA was a pioneer in the creation of a Natural Environment and Biodiversity Unit that channels and promotes the conciliation of the conservation of species and natural habitats with its productive activity
In these five years a number of things have been achieved: the captive breeding of the European mink, the planting of a forest of more than 14,500 trees, contributing to the preservation of the brown bear, and the birth of over 100 hatchlings of birds of prey and hundreds of other species. Furthermore, the behavior of the main species of mammals in the Iberian Peninsula has been documented through a pioneering photo-trap study
The loss of biodiversity is one of the direct consequences of climate change. This is why ACCIONA, as part of its commitment to the fight against this serious problem, has been a pioneer in actively incorporating the protection of biodiversity into its business strategy. In 2011 it set up a specific Natural Environment and Biodiversity Unit to channel and drive the practice of the different divisions of the company to conciliate the conservation of species and natural habitats with its productive activity.
Some of the initiatives undertaken by the company over the last five years have taken the form of successes such as the birth of more than 100 hatchlings of nocturnal birds of prey; the reproduction in captivity of the European mink, the most endangered mammal in Europe; a contribution to improving the feeding habits of many species threatened by extinction (such as the brown bear -thanks to the creation of a fruit tree wood in Cantabria – or the red kite, the black vulture and the Egyptian vulture). This project was carried out, among other places, in the Monfragüe National Park.
Installation of more than 500 nesting huts for protected species
In 2012 ACCIONA started installing more than 500 large nesting huts in its drinking water, desalination and wastewater treatment plants, power lines, dams, hydroelectric facilities and other kinds of installations in Spain, Mexico and Portugal. The aim is to create favorable nesting conditions for nocturnal birds of prey, whose population is decreasing due to, among other things, a lack of suitable places for them to nest.
Thanks to this initiative, more than 80% of the target species – all of them endangered – have been observed nesting in these huts, leading to the birth of over 100 hatchlings. Furthermore, several specimens of other species have used the new huts and some of them have been occupied by bees, a very interesting environmental development because it favors a species that has seen a major fall in its population in recent years, one that is essential for the pollination of crops and ecosystems.
The project also involves a social element, helping people with disabilities to enter the world of work. In the case of Spain, for example, the nesting huts were made by hand by persons with intellectual disabilities who work in the Special Employment Center of the Prodis Foundation, and in Mexico they were made in the ‘Peque Jesús’ Special Education Center.
Research study, using photo-traps, of the presence and behavior of wildlife in and around ACCIONA installations
ACCIONA set up 42 photo-trap cameras (activated by movement) around its installations such as wastewater treatment plants, roads, wind farms or vineyards with a view to providing information on the behavior of indigenous species at these sites.
Thanks to the cameras, the presence of many carnivorous mammals has been observed: wildcats, mongooses, otters, wolves, foxes, martens, polecats, genets, badgers, weasels and even brown bears. Other non-carnivorous mammals such as mountain goats, roebucks, deer and boar have also been photographed, among others.
The 21,000 photographs and videos obtained represent major scientific and environmental findings on the behavior and geographical distribution of these animals. The presence of certain species has been detected in areas where there was no previous evidence of their existence. Another feature observed is the northward movement of a number of species of mammals that live in more southerly latitudes, which could be down to climate change.
The detection of wolves in wind farms in Galicia and Castilla y León is particularly striking. They regularly use the service tracks in some wind farms and even hunt along them, and valuable images have also been captured of the brown bear (an endangered species) in a wind farm in Castilla y León.
Planting of thousands of fruit trees in bear territory
Over three years ACCIONA, in collaboration with the Fundación Oso Pardo (Brown Bear Foundation), has planted more than 14,500 fruit trees in the Cantábrica mountain range in northern Spain to help protect the brown bear, a species threatened with extinction in Spain. The project arose from ACCIONA’s commitment to plant a tree for each worker who took part in an ‘emission calculator’ program, set up for employees as a way of creating awareness on the issue within the company’s Sustainable Mobility Plan.
The “ACCIONA wood” is located on the border of Cantabria and Palencia provinces, an area declared a Nature Reserve under the Natura 2000 network of the European Union. It is now home to around 40 bears and is a strategic link for communication between the bear populations that survive in the Cantábrica mountain range in its eastern and western sections.
Creation of a Regional Network for the Protection of Protected Species in Extremadura
ACCIONA has created, together with the Regional Government of Extremadura, the “Regional Network for the Protection of Endangered Species”, a program to favor the conservation and recuperation of the red kite, a species that is having serious difficulty in maintaining itself across Europe, and other protected bird species.
To do this, a series of feeding points have been created in the Monfragüe National Park in Trujillo (Cáceres) and in Roca de la Sierra (Badajoz).
The first phase of the project was implemented on the ground in early 2013 and required the development of a method of selective feeding that favors endangered species of scavenger birds of prey such as the red kite, the black vulture and the Egyptian vulture.
The result has been highly satisfactory. The feeding points have seen the regular presence of the targeted species, particularly the red kite during its period of hibernation, and the black kite, black vulture and Egyptian vulture during their breeding period.
ACCIONA’s initiative has been referred to in the Ten-Year Review Report of the Monfragüe Biosphere Reserve (RBM), and in UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program in the report on the Main Conservation Programs carried out in Monfragüe, highlighting its innovative nature.
Cooperation in the captive breeding of the European mink
The European mink is the most endangered mammal in Europe. Since 2012 ACCIONA has been working actively with the Foundation for Research into Etiology and Biodiversity (FIEB) in a project to breed the European mink in captivity. The project is carried out by the Foundation in its installations at Casarrubios del Monte (Toledo), one of only two captive breeding centers in Spain for this species. The first four hatchlings were born healthy in 2015. The objective of the project is to achieve the captive breeding of the species with a view to reintroducing it into its natural habitat, mainly in places where the reasons for its disappearance are no longer a problem, both in Spain and in other European Union countries.