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Acciona Ingeniería reaffirms its commitment to protecting the environment to the European Commission

Back to listado de noticias Fecha: 18/10/2016
Acciona Ingeniería reaffirms its commitment to protecting the environment to the European Commission

ACCIONA Ingeniería participated in the meeting on 6 October called by the European Commission as part of the LIFE Programme, as the company leading the LIFE REMoPaF project. It is an initiative which was recognised by the European Commission in July and which is carried out by the consortium comprised of ACCIONA Ingeniería, the Port Authority of Melilla and the University of Seville. There were two objectives for this Conference: On the one hand, to present the various LIFE projects approved in 2016 to the European Commission authorities and, on the other, to enable the Commission and beneficiary companies to exchange their ideas through different roundtables in view of future collaboration.

The goal of the REMoPaF project is to transfer specimens of Patella ferruginea, a mollusc that is native to the Mediterranean and is in danger of extinction, from Melilla to Algeciras. It is a delicate operation which requires the application of new methods as prior transfer attempts have not achieved the desired results. Some of the reasons for the low survival rate of this species include transfers without the substrate the limpets are attached to and the stress caused by the trip.

The proposal offered by the Consortium led by ACCIONA Ingeniería is to create artificial substrates, AIMS (Artificial Inert Mobile Substrates), which will be transferred from the donating area (Melilla) to the area where population is being lost (Algeciras) to prevent the stress that is produced during the trip following the loss of the print. These substrates will be made using 3D printing technology developed by ACCIONA S.A. to replicate the design of the surface of the breakwater rocks at the Port of Melilla, where a considerable population of this species is still found.
 
Attending the event in Brussels were Carlos Gustavo García Jarabo, Project Manager for the project, and Patricia Fort Santa-María, Environmental and Communications Manager for the project. The presentation to the Commission emphasized the importance of spreading awareness among society about the danger of extinction of this species, much like the Iberian lynx, as acknowledged by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment. According to ACCIONA Ingeniería representatives during the roundtable: "The scientific community cannot save a species without social awareness of the real danger of extinction. Therefore, just as important as the technical contributions by ACCIONA Ingeniería, the scientific contributions by the University of Seville or the institutional support from the Port of Melilla is the dissemination work the Consortium has promised to undertake as part of the REMoPAF project in the scientific-technical sector as well as within public institutions and schools in Melilla and Algeciras. Civil society has a moral obligation towards species in danger of extinction and even more so when their disappearance is directly related to human action. Sustainability must obviously be proactive and that is one of the premises of the Consortium members".
 
The ribbed Mediterranean limpet, or Patella ferruginea, is a gastropod mollusc native to the Western Mediterranean, classified as "in danger of extinction" by the Spanish Catalogue of Endangered Species and is listed in Annex IV of the Habitats Directive, which forces strict protection upon Member States, even outside the Natura 2000 Network. The only populations nowadays with reproductive potential are located on the North African coast, on five sites in particular: the Chafarinas Islands, Ceuta, Melilla, the island of Zembra (Tunisia) and Habibas Islands (Algeria). The causes of population loss are associated with both direct action by man -mainly through their capture-, and pollution, which leads to lower dispersion and adaptation to new environments.
 
When asked about Acciona's activities, Carlos Gustavo García said, "Just like with any Innovation project, it is no doubt a challenge but if we eliminate the risk, no innovation is needed but rather implementation. In any case, ACCIONA Ingeniería is providing a very solid technical team with experience working on innovation projects with excellent results. A team with Ángel Carrasco leading the anchoring study, Mariano Martín doing the structural analysis of the AIMS, and Patricia Fort coordinating all of the environment and project dissemination aspects. It is not common to see a private company, and much less so an engineering company, leading a LIFE project in the Nature and Biodiversity category, which is yet another incentive for this project."
 
Accompanying ACCIONA Ingeniería within the Consortium is the University of Seville Marine Biology Laboratory with one of the most important references with knowledge of this species, Professor José Carlos García as the scientific expert, as well as the Port Authority of Melilla with Carmen Pitarch as Head of Quality and the Environment. Along with ACCIONA Ingeniería, they devised the proposal which would be selected in the end. It is in this context that Carlos Gustavo García said, "Jose Carlos García is a reference on this species having published a number of scientific articles, and the Port Authority is aware that it has one of the 5 Patella ferruginea colonies still remaining in the Mediterranean with enough numbers to keep hope alive as far as preventing its extinction. The pace of the species' disappearance from the Pleistocene Period up until the 21st century is obviously exponential and it has been particularly dramatic in the last 60 years. This is quite the opportunity because it still hasn't got to the point of no return but if this species has not adapted to human action since that time, it seems unlikely it will without help. Therefore, we're going to do our little bit so future generations can speak of the Patella ferruginea in the present and not in the past."

One of the items the Commission asked the Roundtable about during the meeting in Brussels was the replicability of the process. The answer was that "if the results are positive in the end, it is a replicable methodology and, thus, could be extended to other species in a similar situation and/or other countries. In fact, people have already contacted us from France and Italy with an interest in our progress so they may repopulate their coasts". In such case, ACCIONA Ingeniería will have led an innovative and sustainable large-scale project in the scientific sector. "Personally, it is really satisfying to be able to work with the scientific community to prevent the extinction of a species that was already present on our coasts in the Ice Age."

ACCIONA Ingeniería's participation in this project reflects its commitment to boosting Innovation and Sustainability as one of the ACCIONA Group's distinguishing marks.

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