Red Eléctrica de España celebrates the tenth anniversary of its ‘Red Eléctrica Forest’ project, an environmental initiative to combat climate change that, since its launch in 2009, has restored 843 hectares through the planting of more than 680,000 trees and shrubs of various native species. In total, the company has restored 14 forests in 12 regions throughout Spain and has invested 2.1 million euros over the last ten years, 13% in 2018.
With this project, Red Eléctrica promotes the conservation of natural spaces that are rich in biodiversity and contributes to the economic and social development of the areas in which the Company’s facilities are located. "Our commitment to biodiversity has always been a key principle of our environmental policy and one of our priorities in terms of sustainability," says Fátima Rojas, Corporate Director of Sustainability and External Relations for Red Eléctrica Group.
To date, the ‘Red Eléctrica Forest’ has contributed to the reforestation of: the Badajoz Forest, the Teruel Forests, the Alcornocales Forest (Cádiz), the Sierra del Molino Forest (Murcia), the Sierra Calderona Forest (Valencia), the Robledal Forest of Remendón (Vizcaya), the Hellín Forest (Albacete), the Mallorca Forest, the Sanabria Forest (Zamora), the Tremuzo Forest (A Coruña), the Carballeda Forest (Zamora), Firgas Forest (Gran Canaria), the Chajaña Forest (Tenerife) and the Asturias Forest. These last two were recovered during 2018.
The future objective of the Company is to recover more than 1,000 hectares of forest in 2021. To this end, the challenge of restoring a forest of at least 40 hectares each year has been set as a target.
Boosting local economies and environmental education
The initiative also supports the development of local economies, as the reforestation works are carried out by local companies. Similarly, the ‘Red Eléctrica Forest’ is a training ground for Vocational Training students, coming from various forestry foreman schools. Specifically, part of the work in the Los Alcornocales Forests (Cádiz), the Sierra Calderona Forest (Valencia) and the Firgas Forest (Canary Islands) have been carried out by these forestry students.
In addition, the initiative contributes to the dissemination of environmental values among the younger populations. In fact, the Company is committed to participatory reforestation activities, involving schoolchildren from the areas and also volunteers from the Company with the help of their families. In total, more than 2,100 people have taken part in training and awareness activities over the last ten years. In 2018, during the reforestation of the Asturias Forest, various actions were carried out with the schools in the area, such as a poetry contest and tree planting works performed by large groups of students.
Forests, a key element for a sustainable future
According to data from the United Nations (UN), 13 million hectares of forest disappear each year due to human intervention. This fact is especially alarming because forests are natural carbon sinks, since they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and are essential to offset the CO2 emissions resulting from human activity.
In Spain alone, forests cover 55% of the territory's surface area and absorb 14 to 19% of the total carbon dioxide emissions of our country per year. It is estimated that the trees planted by the project will help offset 195,000 tonnes of CO2 throughout the life cycle of the trees.
The protection of biodiversity is a priority
At present, the protection of biodiversity is one of the most important trends at an international level in terms of sustainability. In fact, the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda make explicit reference to the need to conserve natural heritage and biological diversity.
Aware of this, the Company takes on the conservation of biodiversity as one of its priorities. Recently, Red Eléctrica presented its Sustainability Report for 2018 in which it showcases the care of the natural environment as one of its main areas of action. In 2017, Red Eléctrica approved a Biodiversity Action Plan for the period 2017-2021, with which it contributes to the protection of birdlife, the protection of habitats of high ecological value and the preservation of forested areas.
Restoration projects are carried out in spaces that are degraded and are rich in biodiversity, using flora species known to be indigenous to each area, both native trees and shrubs, in order to recover the natural ecosystem. In addition, the 'Red Eléctrica Forest' includes in many cases work aimed at preventing fires in forested environments.