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REN

REN – Corridor Reforestation Programme

REN is deeply committed to the protection and sustainability of the Portuguese forest, since 60% of its infrastructure is located in forest areas. To guarantee the safety conditions of the energy infrastructure and to respond to the legislation in force, namely the one connected to the Portuguese National Defence System Against Forest Fires, we have implemented a more active approach to the management of the protection/easement corridors.

 

 

The construction and maintenance of protection corridors associated with our infrastructure (power lines and gas pipelines) produces direct impacts on the flora and on land use. To increase our involvement with the forest, we developed a Programme for the Reforestation of the Easement Corridors that promotes biodiversity and environmental protection through a rationale of multifunctional management of the targeted areas, transforming them into parts of the ecosystems.

Responding to the challenges posed by the demand for energy and by climate change, this initiative is advantageous for landowners, for the forest, for society, and contributes to prevent forest fires. The conversion of the protection corridors serving the power transmission lines enables us to:

  • Promote the creation of a sustainable ecosystem and to increase the land cover's biodiversity;

  • Promote landowners' shared responsibility, through a more active intervention in their lands;

  • Create economic value for landowners and reduce the maintenance costs of their lands;

  • Enhance the landscape and making the vegetation compatible with the presence of our lines;

  • Reduce the risk of fire by clearing and adapting the vegetation existing in the corridors;

  • Promote the involvement of civil society and local communities in the protection against fires and in the management of the territory, through awareness-raising actions regarding risk behaviours.


REN knows that the only way to achieve these goals is with the participation and commitment of all. As such, the reforestation actions are carried out in partnership with local authorities (municipalities), schools and other entities from civil society (associations, NGOs). Among other initiatives, we successfully developed reforestation actions in Gouveia, Porto, Trofa and Pedrógão Grande and support projects connected to the protection of the forest, such as the Common Forest Programme (Programa Floresta Comum) and LIFE Elia.

 

 

The process to convert an easement corridor implies a change in the land use, for example to agriculture (vineyards, pastures, orchards) and the replacement of the existing forest species by species which make it possible to comply with the minimum safety distances. Reforestation is predominantly dependent on the season's climate and soil conditions, on the risk of fire and on its compatibility with the presence of the line (small size and slow growth).

Among the species proposed to landowners are Carob Tree, Holly, Holm Oak, English Oak, Pyrenean Oak, Portuguese Oak, Sweet Chestnut, Strawberry Tree, Walnut Tree, Olive Tree, Stone Pine, Willow and Cork Oak.

Currently, the species whose planting area we seek to increase is the strawberry tree. To promote the planting of Strawberry Trees with the landowners crossed by the corridors of the power transmission lines, we established a partnership with the Portuguese Medronho Cooperative (CPM - Cooperativa Portuguesa de Medronho) seeking to communicate the potential uses of this species and, especially of medronho, as a fruit with high potential in agribusiness, cosmetics, medicine and ornaments.

 

 

Our approach has been receiving recognition from multiple entities as is already a reference concerning vegetation management. REN's project for the "Conversion of Easement Corridors" of its infrastructure was chosen as the reference project in the 2017 "Good Practice of the Year" award, in the Environmental Protection category. This Award is an initiative organized by the Renewables Grid Initiative, a collaboration of Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and multiple Transmission System Operators (TSOs) from all over Europe. Its goal is the promotion and development of transparent grids which are environmentally sensible, to enable the further steady growth of renewable energy and the energy transition.

REN's practices in the field of reforestation have also been used as a case study in multiple publications, such as that of the Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD Portugal) and the Global Compact International Yearbook 2015, a publication of the United Nations.