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REN and University of Évora developed a natural laboratory for the study and preservation of animal species under power transmission lines

 

REN - Redes Energéticas Nacionais signed an agreement with University of Évora for the study and conservation of animal communities under power transmission lines. This partnership was thought within the scope of the LIFE LINES - Linear Infrastructure Networks with Ecological Solutions project and enables the creation of true "biodiversity islands" under the poles. To this end, REN will support this initiative by promoting contact with the owners of lands that are crossed by power transmission lines in the LIFE LINES project's area of intervention.

LIFE LINES is a partnership between University of Évora, its coordinating entity, the company Infraestruturas de Portugal SA, the city councils of Évora and Montemor-o-Novo, Marca, which is a Local Development Association, and the universities of Aveiro and Porto (College of Science). The project seeks to test, evaluate and disseminate mitigation measures applicable to the linear infrastructure (railways, roads and power transmission lines) for multiple species while, simultaneously, promoting the creation along them of a Green Infrastructure, which will support the increase and conservation of biodiversity.

With the collaboration of the owners of the land crossed by the Palmela-Évora and Estremoz-Divor line, and within the scope of the LIFE LINES project, the goal of this partnership includes seeding and planting multiple native plant species under the poles located in areas with little vegetation cover. It is expected that these sites can be permanently occupied by a few small animals, including butterflies, birds, rodents, shrews, etc., or act as safe corridors for them, thus promoting an increase in species populations through the creation of habitats in the targeted areas.

The LIFE LINES team is comprised of more than 30 people, including linear-infrastructure managers, biologists, environmental engineers, landscape architects, civil engineers, designers, and technicians specialized in field work, communications, computer science, administrative management of projects, etc.

For Francisco Parada, head of REN's Quality, Environment and Safety area, biodiversity is one of the most relevant environmental descriptors considered in the systematic evaluation of the possible impacts of REN's activities in the various stages of its infrastructure's life cycles. Thus, this partnership enables us to mitigate and compensate for the impacts of our activity on biodiversity". This joint work took place through REN's Chair on Biodiversity with University of Porto, "which will track the analysis of the date obtained from this partnership with University of Évora", he emphasised.

For António Mira, in charge of the project and a professor at University of Évora, these partnerships with the infrastructure management entities are a key aspect to test and successfully implement efficient solutions that reconcile the existence of the infrastructure with the conservation of biodiversity and services of the ecosystems it provides. António Mira also pointed out the considerable potential that the semi-natural marginal areas frequently associated with the different infrastructures (shoulders, foundations of the supports for power lines, etc.) have to work as safe havens and corridors for several species and, if managed in an integrated manner, these can provide a strong contribution to the significant promotion of biodiversity in the landscape.