SEAT and the Volkswagen Group have launched a project to restore and preserve the biodiversity of the Ebro Delta, the aim of which is to alleviate the effects caused by storm Gloria in early 2020 and recover the most affected by the most important wetland in the western Mediterranean. The initiative, which is carried out in collaboration with the NGO SEU / BirdLife, has an investment of 1 million euros, and will last two years.
A year ago, in January 2020, storm Gloria affected the Ebro Delta with extreme violence, causing a significant environmental impact. The sea came to cover nearly 3,000 hectares of rice fields and entire beaches, endangering the 360 species of birds that make the Ebro Delta one of the most diverse nature reserves in Europe.
The SEAT and Volkswagen Group restoration project will help improve the conservation status of coastal natural habitats and activate prevention projects to strengthen the areas and adapt them to future extreme weather events. Also, the rehabilitation of the area will help create green jobs and ensure local economies in the area.
Edgar Costa, Head of Sustainability at SEAT, emphasized that “the storm has shown that the effects of climate change are a reality, so it is time to act. At SEAT we have already reduced our environmental impact of production by 43% and our ambition is to achieve a zero footprint in 2050 ”. “The protection of biodiversity and the recovery of the ecosystem of the Delta de l’Ebre is an additional step in our commitment to the environment, but also a sign of our responsibility to society and the environment in which operem ”.
Ralf Pfitzner, Head of Sustainability at the Volkswagen Group, commented that “the Volkswagen Group aims to promote biodiversity, reduce CO₂ and protect natural resources. That is why we promote and support various ecological projects throughout Europe. The initiative of the Ebro Delta is particularly impressive. Firstly, for the incredible beauty of a unique landscape in Europe and, secondly, for the high level of experience and passion with which SEU / BirdLife works ”.
Asunción Ruiz, Executive Director of SEU / BirdLife, emphasized that “climate change and the loss of biodiversity are an existential threat to humanity. Our health, our economy and the future of the next generations are at stake. Restoring the good ecological status of the Ebro Delta, the most important wetland in the western Mediterranean, will contribute to the recovery of the ecosystem services of the Natura 2000 Network, valued at 200-300 billion euros / year ”.
Specifically, the recovery project will be focused on restoring the Riet Vell Ornithological Reserve, as well as some coastal areas threatened by rising sea levels. In these areas, various actions will be activated to restore ecological functions and services, especially those related to the damping of the effects of rising sea levels and the recovery of habitats that favor the channeling of water to the subsoil.
In addition, the rehabilitation of the SEU / BirdLife Volunteer Home in the Ebro Delta will also be carried out, as well as the realization of conservation campaigns and training programs for all the volunteers who will work on the project, which will feature the participation of SEAT workers.
The Ebro Delta and the Riet Vell Ornithological Reserve
The Ebro Delta is the most important deltaic formation in the western Mediterranean. It has an area of 33,000 hectares at the mouth of the river Ebro, with 80% dedicated to agriculture and urbanization, with rice being the main crop. The natural areas occupy 20% of the territory mostly along the coast, consisting of beaches, dune systems, seafaring, lagoons and wetlands of fresh and brackish water.
The Riet Vell Nature Reserve in the Ebro Delta is a natural area of high ecological value with a total of 57 hectares, which in addition to being an agro-ecological farm, has an area of 10 hectares of natural habitats restored by SEU / BirdLife and which include a lagoon, a reedbed and a salt meadow area. Several species of waterfowl use the delta to nest, rest from their migratory journeys, or spend the winter.
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