04 December 2013

REN signs protocol with QUERCUS to support the FLORESTA COMUM” programme

REN - Redes Energéticas Nacionais and Quercus  signed today a protocol to support the five-year 'Floresta Comum' [Common Forest] programme. The programme intends to nurture and encourage the creation of a native forest with high levels of biodiversity and the development of ecosystem services.

To celebrate the partnership, around 150 children from schools in Gouveia planted 2,500 trees donated by the Institute of Nature and Forest Conservation (ICNF), under the slogan 'Planting the Future Together'. This initiative takes place upon the completion of the 1st phase of the 3rd interconnection to Spain (Zamora) of the gas pipeline that connects Mangualde, Celorico and Guarda. The project has enabled natural gas to be supplied to the inhabitants of Gouveia, Fornos de Algodres and Celorico da Beira municipalities, and reinforces the security of Portugal's supply by closing the Monforte-Guarda and Cantanhede-Mangualde loop. 

The ceremony to sign the protocol was held in Casais de Folgosinho, Gouveia. It was attended by Luís Tadeu, Mayor of Gouveia Council, Nuno Sequeira, President of Quercus and João Gaspar, manager of REN's Access and Assets area, among other entities.

'The common goals and approach between the Floresta Comum project and REN's strategy to manage the easement strips for power lines explain REN's participation in this project,' said the REN Access and Assets manager, João Gaspar. 'By allowing proprietors to harness spaces that had previously been left abandoned, while at the same time we optimise power line strip management, we are creating conditions to better protect the forest against fire and to preserve the biodiversity of each location,' added João Gaspar.

According to Quercus President Nuno Sequeira, 'this partnership between Quercus and REN is an important step forward in relations between the two entities. The climate of collaboration that has been fostered in recent years, especially as regards the study and identification of certain critical zones in relation to the impact of power lines on birds, will be broadened with a view to monitoring the initiatives to plant the forest with native species in power line protection lanes. This allows the evolution of aspects linked to Nature Conservation, the Forest and Biodiversity in these areas and the surrounding zones to be assessed. We are hopeful that this important agreement can contribute to improving forest planning and management in Portugal, promoting a multi-functional forest, using the species most suited to the climate and the soils of our country.'

Project transporting Natural Gas to Trás os Montes completed
The 2nd phase of the gas pipeline will connect the Portuguese network to the Spanish one through Zamora, reinforcing Portugal's integration in the trans-European gas network, which will bring benefits to the consumers.
The Mangualde-Celorico gas pipeline of Beira-Guarda has approximately 76 kilometres of steel tubing, passing through five municipalities, 23 parishes and the land of 943 proprietors, taking a deviation to the north to avoid the Serra da Estrela Nature Park.

The project is co-funded by the European Economic Community as part of the European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR) and involved around 270 employees and more than 500,000 working hours in total.

With connections also made to the REN natural gas underground storage plant in Carriço, in the region of Pombal, and to the REN liquefied natural gas terminal in Sines, the Celorico-Zamora gas pipeline is another step towards making the Iberian Peninsula a gateway for natural gas into the European system.

Preserving the environment and biodiversity
The company carried out a set of actions and partnerships to preserve the environment and biodiversity, under this project and in line with its policy of environmental and social responsibility.

Especially noteworthy was the planting of more than 28,000 trees, including Holm oaks, oaks and ash trees, in a 25-hectare area of the Serra da Estrela Nature Park, to offset the felling of native tree species that was necessary to construct the pipeline.

In order to specifically minimise the impact on endemic species, a 'Study on the distribution of Narcissus Scaberulus' was carried out, which identified the location of the population clusters of this species in the project zone. In a subsequent phase, direct measures were taken on the clusters affected by the construction work, which included gathering seeds for creating seed nurseries at a later date and the transplanting of bulbs.
Data from the first assessment phase of this operation, gathered in March this year, showed it to be highly successful, with a success rate of over 80% for all the plantation zones and the presence of Narcissus Scaberulus shoots in all the areas sowed.

REN also organised monitoring actions for the birdlife, water resources and air quality, during the project. The company monitored bird species in danger of extinction, especially during the nesting season, and it carried out studies to evaluate and monitor air quality and water quality in the zones that the gas pipeline crossed.

REN also has a programme up and running that aims to introduce vegetation in the power line easement strips that is compatible with the infrastructures and helps to reduce fire risk, increasing intervention cycles and fostering the accountability of the proprietors of the land in question.

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