BIODIVERSITY

We protect biodiversity as a source of sustainable development

Here at Iberdrola we have made conservation and promoting the biodiversity of ecosystems part of the group's strategy to develop clean energy sources that treat nature as a precious source of sustainable development.

 Committed to the Sustainable Development Goals

IBERDROLA'S BIODIVERSITY GOAL

Achieve "No Net Loss" of biodiversity by 2030, working to ensure that new facilities deliver a net positive impact on biodiversity, where possible.

This objective is based on the application of the principles of the mitigation hierarchy in all activities and in the continual improvement of our standards of protection of biodiversity, integrating relevant methodologies to assess attainment of the objective. As a priority, Iberdrola avoids locating new infrastructure in designated conservation areas (protected because of their ecological, biological, cultural and/or scenic value) unless there are no other feasible alternatives. Areas of special interest for biodiversity without a specific designated protection will also be avoided whenever possible. Designated conservation areas include, amongst others, World Heritage areas, national or regional protected areas and the relevant categories defined by IUCN.

What is biodiversity and why is so important?

Biodiversity — also known as biological diversity — refers to the huge variety of living beings that inhabit our planet. This also includes the various land and underwater ecosystems, and the interactions that take place between different species.

It plays a crucial role in the composition and functioning of every ecosystem and their cycles: the water cycle, the food chain, the soil cycle. What's more, keeping a good biological balance helps to stabilise the climate and reduce contamination. For us humans, it ensures we get food, access to raw materials and clean water. It prevents us from suffering natural disasters and also provides energy security.

LA BIODIVERSIDAD Y EL DESARROLLO SOSTENIBLE

Fostering economic and social development, respect for the environment and promoting global biodiversity are Iberdrola's priority corporate values, which are totally in line with Sustainable Development Goals six, thirteen, fourteen and fifteen. Iberdrola group manifests its commitment to safeguarding and promoting the biodiversity of ecosystems according to the action principles set out in its Biodiversity Policy.

 Integrating biodiversity conservation into the group's strategy and in decisions on infrastructure projects.

 Applying the mitigation hierarchy and avoiding placing new infrastructure in protected areas and those with high biodiversity value.

 Integrating biodiversity into the group's environmental management systems (EMS).

 Participating in research, conservation, education and awareness-raising projects.

 Providing information on the group's activities relating to biodiversity.
 

Iberdrola supports knowledge and research by collaborating with stakeholders and taking part in a range of studies to understand the behaviour of species and habitats in the countries where it operates. These projects include the "Bird Migration" study, which analyses the migratory behaviour of birds found in Spain, as well as studies aimed at increasing knowledge and improving the management of natural assets.

The company also helps to produce the Practical Guide to Ecological Restoration in collaboration with the Biodiversity Foundation's Business and Biodiversity Initiative. This guide is a methodological tool aimed at helping decision makers to foster ecological restoration in activities in order to strengthen and recover natural assets and fight against biodiversity loss.


 CHECK OUR BIODIVERSITY REPORTS

HOW CAN WE PROTECT AND CONSERVE BIODIVERSITY?

 

SUSTAINABLE USE OF BIODIVERSITY

Bubbles.

Marine biodiversity protection

Bubble curtains system helped to protect porpoises, a small cetacean in danger of extinction, during the construction works of the Wikinger marine wind farm.
Ecosystems.

Marine life and life in terrestrial ecosystems

40% of the world's oceans are severely affected by our activity and each year 13 million hectares are deforested. Respect for the biodiversity of all ecosystems is essential for our own survival.

 

IBERDROLA INITIATIVES TO PROMOTE BIODIVERSITY


Biodiversity Pact

By signing this Pact, Iberdrola underlines its commitment to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. The Pact is sponsored by the Spanish Business and Biodiversity Initiative, created by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Magrama) and the Biodiversity Foundation, of which Iberdrola is also a member.

Iberdrola is a member of the European Initiative from the EU Business @ Biodiversity Platform.

ALETEO project

Iberdrola, through its Distribution subsidiary i-DE, will invest around 200 million euros to adapt and correct some 234,000 electrical supports in order to minimise the impact of overhead lines on birdlife. ALETEO project, as it is called, will be carried out in Spain between 2018 and 2025 and will affect one third of the supports the company has installed in the nine autonomous communities where it operates (Madrid, Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha, the Valencian Region, Castilla y León, La Rioja, Navarre, the Basque Country, Murcia Region and Cantabria).

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Priority will be given to modifying the pylons in Spain's Special Bird Protection Areas (ZEPAS), although those located in protection zones established by the Autonomous Communities themselves will also be adapted.

The improvements to be made to the power lines will consist of covering the different phases and connections on the supports, increasing the safety distance — changing the insulators to lengthen the chain or installing other long rod type ones —, replacing the crossarms with others specially designed to protect the birds and installing anti-nesting devices, among other measures.

Over the next two years, the company expects to adapt 25,000 supports on distribution lines to protect birds from electrocution. So far, 4,127 have already been adapted, and a further 6,659 and being processed for adaptation.

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MIGRA program:

This ambitious project, under way since 2011, and developed by Fundación Iberdrola España conjunction with SEO/BirdLife, is a result of Iberdrola's commitment to achieving bird-friendly energy and Spanish biodiversity.

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The program aims to preserve Spanish birdlife by expanding knowledge of bird migratory and bird breeding habits through the latest geolocation and remote-monitoring technologies. Different species have been equipped with GPS devices to gather the details about their migratory trips, the duration, what route they follow, at what speed and altitude they fly, where they rest and feed and if the routes are the same year after year, which make it possible for all of us to see their movements www.migraciondeaves.org. In addition, they help us anticipate any possible threats that could endanger them, while providing fundamental information to prepare relevant scientific studies.

The MIGRA program currently has 1,083 birds of 32 different species tagged, and useful information has been gathered from 633 birds of 31 different species.

Migration and Spatial Ecology of White Storks in Spain was published in February 2020, this exhaustive publication, the result of seven years of work, reveals the movements of white storks throughout the year their breeding and wintering grounds and migrations between the two. This paper — the fifth produced as part of the MIGRA program — shows a clear change in the migratory strategy of white storks in Western Europe. In fact, white storks have proven to be the ideal model to demonstrate that changes caused by humans on a global level (production of large amounts of waste, large expanses dedicated to irrigated crops, etc.) are causing profound changes to the environment and to how species behave.

The publication presents the results of a project that saw 79 white storks fitted with remote tracking devices, of which 53 were tagged in Spain and 26 were tagged in Central Europe (24 in Switzerland, one in France and one in Germany) between 2012 and 2017. The GPS data show that the current wintering areas of the Spanish adult white stork population are mostly located in the country. The number of sedentary birds has increased significantly and migration distances have shortened. Furthermore, a significant proportion of Western European storks fly to Spain in autumn.

November 2019 marked the publication of Migration and spatial ecology of the Spanish population of the Bulwer's Petrel, which is the fourth monograph to be produced as part of the MIGRA program in collaboration with the Fundación Iberdrola España. Bulwer's Petrel is a small seabird that nests in the Canary Islands and is catalogued as endangered, since in Spain only an estimated 1,000 breeding pairs remain. Knowing the current distribution of these populations will allow, amongst other things, the preparation of a model of the effect of global warming on the distribution of this species, as tropical birds will be the first to suffer the impact of climate change.

Bulwer's Petrel.#RRSSBulwer's Petrel.

The production of this monograph has involved the study of the migration routes of 105 birds fitted with geolocators. In addition, it has been possible to monitor movements during reproduction thanks to the fitting of GPS devices during breeding, which has allowed 59 complete feeding trips to be recorded.

The species the Migrate program focused on in 2019 was the Montagu's Harrier, a migratory species classed as vulnerable in the Spanish Catalogue of Endangered Species. We know that the Spanish populations winter in the African Sahel, but until 2018 they had not marked with high-resolution GPS systems to learn in detail about the movements and the migration of this endangered bird of prey, its feeding areas in Spain, its wintering areas in Africa and the places it stops off at on its migratory journeys.

Montagu's Harrier.#RRSSMontagu's Harrier.

In 2018, 10 examples of adults were tagged in Andalusia, Castilla y León, Catalonia and Galicia, and in the spring of 2019, 13 further harriers were tagged in Albacete, Cáceres, Huelva, Madrid, Palencia, Salamanca and Segovia. In this way, with more than 250,000 locations obtained, it will be possible to know, for example, which zones and habitats are the most important for the species on its migratory routes and where it over-winters. This information will eventually reveal whether some of the conservation problems resulting in the decline in its population arise from these areas, in order to try and resolve them.

 Let's Save the Harriers campaign


SEO/BirdLife and the group for the Rehabilitation of Autochthonous Fauna and its Habitat (GREFA) have also marked more than 80 lesser kestrels across Spain, enabling Spanish specialists to track the movements, their migratory paths, their African wintering areas and real-time location of these birds of prey in full detail for the first time.

Nano-GPS systems have been used to track the birds. These state-of-the-art devices weighing less than five grams are attached to the kestrel's back like a sort of backpack to reveal their movements day and night and monitor their migratory habits. This system has been used to mark 13 lesser kestrels in Cordoba, nine in Cuenca, 12 in Gerona, nine in Huesca, five in Jaen, 29 in Madrid and nine in Zamora.

Kestrel.#RRSSNano-GPS trackers have been attached to the lesser kestrels' backs to record their migratory habits.

In the same way, to celebrate the 2018 World Migratory Bird Day, the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/BirdLife) has tagged four peregrine falcon. (Falco peregrinus) chicks, a species listed as Vulnerable in the Community of Madrid Catalogue of Threatened Species. The tagging, which was made possible through cooperation with Iberdrola, will provide greater knowledge of this species, which is recorded as having at least 38 pairs in the region, of which 23 are in the mountains, three on the plain and 12 in the centre of Madrid.

This organisation has been monitoring the peregrine falcon population of Madrid for many years. In 2007 a pair was spotted at the General Gómez Ulla Hospital and after a nesting box was placed there to encourage them to reproduce it was occupied by a pair of birds. Since then peregrine falcons have been breeding there.

Peregrine falcon.#RRSSTagging a peregrine falcon nesting at the Gómez Ulla Hospital in Madrid.

SEO/BirdLife has also presented the publication titled Migración y Ecología Espacial de las Poblaciones Españolas de Pardela Cenicienta (Migration and Spatial Ecology of the Spanish Populations of the Scopoli's/Cory's Shearwater), the third monograph in the Migra program edited by SEO/BirdLife in partnership with Iberdrola. The work was possible thanks to the banding of 460 examples across 13 breeding colonies throughout different Spanish regions, namely the Balearic Islands, Castellón, Murcia, Almería, Chafarinas Islands, the Atlantic Islands of Galicia and several of the Canary Islands. Given the magnitude of the registered positioning database, with its 1,017,029 tracked locations, considering not only the number of individuals but also the number and distribution of included colonies, in addition to the number of years of the study, this work is by far the most ambitious to date in addressing the movement ecology of Spanish species using the lastest remote tracking devices.

Shearwaters.#RRSSMigrating Cory's Shearwaters. © Pep Arcos.

Another publication in SEO/BirdLife's MIGRA Program was the Migration and Spatial Ecology of the Spanish Population of Booted Eagle. To carry out the study, 21 eagles have been tagged with GPS and over 83,000 locations have been obtained from the more than 194,000 km covered by the birds on their journeys. The study data reveals that international cooperation is essential to create safe areas for booted eagles on their migratory journeys to sub-Saharan Africa: during their autumnal migration, these birds travel between 2,400 and 3,400 km, arriving in Savannah areas of the African Sahel. This trip lasts about three weeks and there are days when they fly as far as 400 km at a maximum speed of 72 km/h.

Booted eagle.#RRSSBooted eagle tagged with GPS.

Another important initiative of the Iberdrola Spain Foundation is the signing of a partnership agreement with the Bearded Vulture Conservation Foundation for a new project to study the influence of climate change on this and other Alpine birds. The study is continuing by installing further traps and collecting eggs for breeding and subsequent release. Three specimens have been released in the Picos de Europa.

Some of the latest findings of the program include the case of the swift, a summer migratory bird par excellence, which can travel 20,000 kilometers on its migratory flight to Africa. The common swift is one of the most characteristic birds in our towns and cities at springtime. Every year, starting in March, thousands of birds flood the sky every year with their characteristic screeching sounds, and they begin to abandon their nests towards the end of July to migrate to Africa. 41 swifts in Nuevo Baztán (a municipality of Madrid) were banded for this study.

In the specific case of the Spanish pallid swift, through the use of GPS devices we now know about its migratory habits and overwintering areas. In one case, we attached an emitter weighing 0.6 grams to a bird of this species in 2015, which revealed the secrets of its journey: a trip of over 3,600 km, from Zaragoza to Benin and Nigeria, where it would spend the winter.

Pallid swift.#RRSSPallid swift equipped with a geolocation device.

Furthermore, the MIGRA program by SEO/Birdlife, in collaboration with Iberdrola, has published a monograph about the Audouin's gull, a species native to the Mediterranean with a relatively small population, 90% of which nest in Spain during their reproductive season.

Audouin's Gull.#RRSSAudouin's Gull.

For the study on the Migration and Spatial Ecology of Audouin's Gull in the Western Mediterranean and North-East Africa, 221,931 spatial locations of more than 15,500 different specimens were analysed. Its 100 pages contain the movements, phenology and spatial ecology of the Audouin's gull at its breeding grounds, on migratory routes and in wintering areas. The study likewise reveals 15 areas of great value for the species on the African coasts that deserve to be identified as Important Bird Areas (IBA).

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Study on the impact of climate change on bearded vultures:

Iberdrola — through Fundación Iberdrola — and the Bearded Vulture Conservation Foundation (FCQ) have presented the results of the Study on the Effects of Climate Change on the Bearded Vulture Population in the Central Pyrenees. The study reveals the presence of more than 800 mosquitoes, black flies and midges carrying avian malaria, a disease more dangerous for birds than initially thought.

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These insect vectors, accustomed to warmer habitats, were previously unknown in the cold, mountainous ecosystem of the Central Pyrenees. But the increase in temperature caused by climate change means they are now found in bearded vulture nesting areas. This demonstrates the risk that the bearded vulture, an endangered species in the EU, is being exposed to the disease.

Bearded vulture.#RRSSThe study has detected avian malaria in the Central Pyrenees, the bearded vulture's habitat.

This parasitic disease has caused dramatic reductions in species as widespread and common as the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) and its expansion into new regions, such as Hawaii and New Zealand, has had devastating effects on previously unexposed domestic populations. It has now been found that the disease has also had a severe impact on species that have previously coexisted with the parasite. For example, it has been implicated in the 75% decline in London's sparrow population.

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LIFE+ Cantabrian Capercaillie Project:

Urogallo cantábrico.

The program for the conservation of this autochthonous and emblematic species in danger of extinction in the Cantabrian Mountain Range has involved active work between 2010 and 2016 with the two-fold objective of halting its decline and fostering its recovery.
 

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At the start of the project, it was estimated that only some 400 specimens remained between Asturias, León and Cantabria. To contribute to the recovery of this species, the European LIFE+ Cantabrian Capercaillie Project, coordinated by the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing, Food and the Environment, with the support of Fundación Iberdrola España and the Autonomous National Parks Organisation, a series of urgent conservation, social participation, awareness raising and dissemination actions have been carried out.

Cantabrian Capercaillie.#RRSSCantabrian Capercaillie.

Some of the main actions carried out since 2010 han include:

  • Forestry treatments in over 500 hectares to improve the Capercaillie's habitat.
  • Removal or marking of 60 km of dangerous fences to eliminate the risk of electrocution.
  • Control and monitoring of the deer population, due to its direct effect on the availability of food for the Capercaillie.
  • Breeding in captivity programme as a complementary measure to the management of the habitat and re-introduction of Capercaillies into the wild.
  • 19 land custody projects thanks to 29 voluntary agreements between owners, non-profit organisations and other public and private agents.
  • Environmental awareness-raising and educational activities, with school workshops, in which 2,000 students have participated.

This project has laid the foundations for the future conservation of the species, based on the experience and technical know-how acquired during the execution of the different actions.

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All the information about

BIODIVERSITY

What biodiversity protection plans are in place?

Iberdrola first established its biodiversity action plan many years ago. This strategic plan is motivated by four principles of behaviour, defined in its biodiversity policy: to protect, understand and conserve biodiversity and to raise awareness and inform stakeholders. In the various operational units, this strategic action plan is translated into action lines and work programmes such as the protection of fauna and flora or pollution reduction.

The action plan encompasses and applies to each and every stage of the facility life cycle (design, construction, operation and dismantling). Therefore, construction projects are carried out in line with the mitigation hierarchy and the environmental impact process. During the operational phase, the action plan is incorporated through the group's integrated management.

Do you know the real importance of forests in our ecosystem?

The importance of forests to our planet is undeniable They are vital ecosystems for protecting the world's biodiversity. In order to achieve sustainable development, they must be looked after in the knowledge that they are finite and essential to life. Without them, there would be no drinking water, no clean air, nor much of the necessary food. Furthermore, the importance of primary forests is not only because of the source of oxygen they provide but also because they mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and therefore reducing the greenhouse effect.

What is Iberdrola's biodiversity policy?

The development of the group's businesses inevitably produces interactions with various ecosystems. That is why we are committed with the protection of biodiversity and environmental conservation. We promote a social culture aimed at raising the awareness of all stakeholders, identifying specific actions that help to conserve natural environments and act against the loss of biodiversity in favour of living beings and the conservation of species.

Find out the details biodiversity policy.

What is the importance of biodiversity for the conservation of life?

Biodiversity has a great influence on the conservation of living beings. If we do not take the importance of biodiversity into consideration, acting with a focus on sustainability and respecting the rules of environmental conservation, we will be acting against the interests of human beings. Because the loss of biodiversity has a direct impact on our food security, on vulnerability to natural disasters, on access to clean water, and on the extinction of species.

Overexploitation of biological resources and its negative effect on biodiversity

Human impact is a direct cause of loss of biodiversity. Not knowing how to manage resources, ignoring that they are finite, brings with it the depletion of natural resources. Constant human activity and the undeniable overexploitation of resources at a higher speed than their natural regeneration makes life difficult and brings with it the loss of biodiversity. Deforestation and overfishing are clear examples of this.

Here we explain overexploitation and its consequences for natural resources.

Which animals are in danger of extinction?

Global biodiversity is suffering an unprecedented decline. More than one million species are in danger of extinction and may disappear within decades, according to a report issued by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The report identifies which animals are in danger of extinction due to climate change (which will be responsible for five per cent of these losses if the temperature increases by two degrees). The natural habitats of these animals are under threat from global warming, and the risk of extinction is increasing. Among the most severely endangered species are Madagascar crickets and millipedes, the African antelope and the snow leopard. However, climate change is not the only thing threatening biodiversity. Soil depletion, pollution and the over exploitation of species are as big a threat to their survival than climate change, if not more so.

How can we handle the conservation of the environment and the sustainability of the system?

Biodiversity and its conservation are irremediably conditioned by human interference in the environment. In order not to generate environmental problems that result in the loss of biodiversity, it is necessary to carry out conservation measures and know how to implement them. Conservation is a basic principle in the environmental policy of the Iberdrola group, and it is committed to the biodiversity of the ecosystems, landscapes and species where it carries out its activity.

In addition, environmental conservation will be helped by small actions that each one of us can carry out in our daily lives: using reused products, turning off taps properly, using public transport, separating rubbish or consuming ecological products.

What is the importance of protecting and conserving biodiversity?

Protecting biodiversity and ecosystems means protecting ourselves as a species, because we depend on them for our own survival. Forests reduce global warming and end water pollution. Biodiversity helps to pollinate flowers and crops, among other things. We get food and medicine from nature, and micro-organisms help us with soil fertilisation. The benefits that biological diversity provides to all living beings are innumerable, and that is why we have to take care of the interactions in the ecosystems and have clear environmental conservation areas. Our duty as a species is to encourage ecological transition, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy efficiency, and with it, the survival of the earth's flora and fauna.

Biodiversity and its conservation must be a sure bet for the future

Opting for the conservation of the earth means opting for the conservation of biodiversity. Biological diversity safeguards the functioning of vital cycles of water, nutrients and soil. So we have to minimise the impact of human beings on the environment in order to guarantee food security and access to clean water and different raw materials, among other things. It is also a chance to prevent natural disasters. Therefore, when it comes to action policies, among the objectives for development, particular emphasis must be placed on the conservation of biological diversity, and on ensuring the protection of environmental conservation areas.

How does climate change affect biodiversity?

Climate change is one of the direct causes of loss of biodiversity. Global warming and global climate change mean that many animal and plant species are not adapting to the situation and are abandoning their reference habitats in the face of drought, rainfall and extreme weather events. Many of the animals suffering from climate change will be driven to extinction as they are unable to adapt to the effects of the change. That is why conservation policies are so important to look after species and ecosystems.

What does environmental management mean?

Environmental management is the strategy that the various organisations use to try to make their activities have as little impact on the environment and nature as possible. It is a question of seeking a balance between geo-economic interests and environmental conservation. There are different approaches to management control, depending on the scope. These include preventing future environmental conflict; the correction of existing environmental problems and reversing environmental damage caused in the past.

What is a protected area?

Protected areas are extensions of land or sea that are protected so that they don’t lose their biodiversity, geodiversity and natural and cultural resources. The aim is to contain natural ecosystems that are threatened or of special ecological, educational or scientific interest, among others. They are usually recognised as natural heritage, and their biological diversity and species' habitats are protected and looked after.

According to the map of protected areas, the Iberdrola group selects the location of new infrastructure, avoiding protected areas or those with a high impact on biodiversity.

What are the principles of conservation of biodiversity?

The Iberdrola group undertakes different actions to conserve biodiversity in the different ecosystems in which it carries out its activities. These principles include integrating environmental conservation into decision-making at the various stages of their infrastructure projects; applying a precautionary approach to environmental conservation; compensating for the impact produced and restoring natural capital; and protecting species and habitats through positive conservation and research.

What are the basic principles of environmental management?

The Iberdrola group has defined a series of basic management principles in its environmental policy with the aim of achieving sustainable development and avoiding environmental degradation. These include: respecting the environmental regulations in force in the countries in which it operates; knowing and continually evaluating the risks involved in its facilities; preventing those risks; responsible consumption; and incorporating environmental considerations into investment and planning decision processes. In short, these are basic ethical principles for respecting and ensuring biodiversity and ecosystems.

How can we manage energy efficiency and environmental sustainability?

Achieving energy efficiency and promoting environmental sustainability can be achieved by responsible energy use and advocating efficient technologies that reduce energy consumption. At Iberdrola we encourage responsible energy use and pay special attention to optimising our entire energy chain (production, transport and distribution). We never lose sight of our goal of protecting biodiversity and ecosystems.

However, small actions also count, and any household can achieve its own energy efficiency and sustainability, with the aim of protecting biodiversity on a small scale and fighting climate change. Commitment to renewable energies, efficient technologies and simple rules for private energy use.

How can the GHG protocol impact in biodiversity conservation?

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol provides a standardized way to calculate and account greenhouse gas emissions. Its use allows to compare the results between different organizations all over time to better knowing if reductions of emissions have taken place, and to evaluate climatic benefits. Knowing the indices and protocol standards helps to guide policies for combating climate change and looking after and promoting biodiversity.