Safeguarding biodiversity requires more than just love for animals and plants. This passion needs to be backed up by a serious scientific approach. These are complementary aspects that together create effective action: each is essential but insufficient without the other.
This is the spirit with which Enel is taking part in the International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May. This year’s theme is the 25th Anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention on Biological Diversity: it’s an opportunity to celebrate the progress achieved, given the increasingly ambitious goals that lie ahead.
Enel policy and United Nations Goals
For an international Group like ours safeguarding biodiversity is a strategic sustainability aim. We have had an active biodiversity policy since 2015 and our commitment in this area is in line with two of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Goals 14 - Life Below Water and 15 - Life on Land.
Enel’s initiatives are focused on the areas where we operate, with the intention of safeguarding ecosystems and also encouraging scientific research and supporting local communities: this way our power plants become the catalyst for social development and environmental protection projects. We are careful to preserve habitats and to reintroduce particular species of animals and indigenous plants, often in collaboration with research centres and observatories.
We have already launched 158 projects in 16 countries, ranging from Chile to Russia, Spain to the United States, Italy to Guatemala, Romania to South Africa, covering a total area of 1.94 million hectares.
Fjords, tropical forests and desert
In the Los Lagos region of Chile, the Fundación San Ignacio del Huinay (established in 2001 by Enel Generacion and the Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso) manages a 34,000-hectare nature reserve in Huinay, aimed at defending and supporting the bio-geographical heritage of the area. This is a mostly unexplored zone of great natural value, characterised by fjords, forests and glaciers. The Foundation has various types of activity: scientific research, conservation of biodiversity and support for the local community.
From cold waters to hot lands: tropical dry forests are ecosystems at risk and are often neglected. Enel launched a programme in Colombia to extend the dry forest of Huila, the largest in the country, by 11,000 hectares. The pilot phase of the project has already discovered an unknown species of native plant, created protected areas and established the country’s first centre for practical research dedicated to tropical dry forests.
Viesca is situated on the edge of the Coahuila desert in Mexico. Working with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Enel has reserved an area here to be repopulated with animals and plants. From fjords to tropical forests and deserts, these three ecosystems are emblematic of the types of project that represent us.
Flora and fauna in wet zones
Smaller, but no less important, is the Comana forest in the wetlands of Romania: Enel has contributed to the replanting of 22,000 oak trees, as their numbers were falling dangerously, in one of the country’s most important nature areas.
Wetlands are also famous for providing nesting areas for birds. For years, the Priolo Gargallo area in Sicily has been the location of an Enel project supporting the breeding of flamingos, which has since become a tourist attraction. Enel has launched similar programmes in Tuscany and Lombardy, to build up the stork populations, and a programme in Emilia that cares for hawks’ nests.
One of the most original of our numerous projects in Italy is the fish ladder system in the River Po. Using many technological solutions, including a network of cameras to monitor progress, this system encourages the repopulation of fish species, with particular attention to those at risk, such as the Adriatic sturgeon. The project is similar to one introduced in Sardinia to safeguard the eel population, by encouraging their reproduction.
One of Enel’s most articulated projects is in As Pontes, Galicia, where we have created an artificial lake: the area was restocked with mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and plants. The project has become a global benchmark and won important awards, including the Fondena Prize which was given by the King of Spain.
And the list continues on. It is, however, worth citing at least one more case. The Iberian lynx is a wild cat species native to the Iberian Peninsula. It was still common only a few decades ago, but today it is on the verge of extinction. Enel contributes to the on-going repopulation project with a drone system that localises and monitors the animals’ movements to supply reliable data on their population numbers: an example of the convergence of our passion for biodiversity and vocation for scientific innovation.