SEAT and the Volkswagen Group restore the ecosystem of the Ebro Delta Nature Park
- The aim is to mitigate the environmental effects caused by the storm ‘Gloria’ and to preserve the biodiversity of one of Europe’s largest nature reserves
- The project, which will be carried out over two years in collaboration with the NGO SEO/BirdLife, has an investment of 1 million euros
- The focus of recovery will be the Riet Vell Bird Reserve and other coastal ecosystems of great biological richness
- This initiative demonstrates SEAT’s and the Volkswagen Group’s commitment to environmental protection and the development of its surroundings
SEAT and the Volkswagen Group are firmly committed to the environment and caring for the planet. As part of this mission, they have launched a project to restore and preserve the biodiversity of the Ebro Delta. The aim is to alleviate the effects caused by the storm ‘Gloria’ at the beginning of 2020 and restore the most heavily affected areas of the most important wetland in the western Mediterranean. The initiative, which is being carried out in collaboration with the NGO SEO/BirdLife, has an investment of 1 million euros, and will last for two years.
One year ago, in January 2020, the storm Gloria devastated the Ebro Delta with extreme intensity, causing a significant environmental impact. The sea covered nearly 3,000 hectares of rice paddies and flooded 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 the Volkswagen Group restoration project will help to improve the conservation status of the natural coastal habitats and activate prevention projects to secure the areas and prepare them for future extreme weather events. The rehabilitation of the area will also help to create green jobs and safeguard local economies in the area.
Edgar Costa, head of Sustainability at SEAT, highlighted: “the storm ‘Gloria’ has shown that the effects of climate change are a reality, so is the time to act. At SEAT we have already reduced our environmental impact from production by 43% and we aim to achieve a zero footprint by 2050.” “Protecting biodiversity and recovering the ecosystem of the Ebro Delta is an additional step in our commitment to the environment, but also a sign of our responsibility to society and the environment in which we operate” he added.
Ralf Pfitzner, Head of Sustainability at the Volkswagen Group, commented: “The Volkswagen Group wants to promote biodiversity, save CO2 and protect our natural resources. For this reason, we support ecological projects all over Europe. The project in the Ebro Delta is particularly impressive. First because of the breathtaking beauty of this unique European landscape. Secondly, because of the high level of expertise and passion with which SEO/BirdLife works on site.”
SEO/BirdLife Executive Director Asunción Ruiz said: “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 Ebro Delta’s sound ecological status, 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. In the case of the Delta, these services represent a large source of food resources (rice, fish and bivalves), protection against storms by preventing marine encroachment and flooding, mitigation of climate change - as an important carbon sink - and an important tourist resource, among others. Restoring this wetland of international importance, with one of the largest private investments ever made in the Ebro Delta, will not only reduce potential future losses in the food, insurance, and tourism sectors, but will also generate high-quality green jobs for the inhabitants of the area and greater stability in their local economies after the storm Gloria.”
Specifically, the restoration project will focus on repairing the Riet Vell Bird Reserve, as well as some coastal areas threatened by rising sea levels. In these areas several measures will be activated to recover ecological functions and services, especially those related to curbing the effects of rising sea levels and recovering habitats that favour the channelling of water to the subsoil. In addition, the rehabilitation of the SEO Birdlife Volunteers’ Home in the Ebro Delta will also be carried out, as well as conservation campaigns and training programmes for all the volunteers who will work on the project, which will include the participation of SEAT employees.
The Ebro Delta and the Riet Vell Bird Reserve
The Ebro Delta is the most important river delta formation in the western Mediterranean. It has an area of 33,000 hectares at the mouth of the river Ebro, with 80% of it devoted to agriculture and urbanisation, with rice being the main crop. Natural areas occupy 20% of the territory mostly along the coast, composed of beaches, dune systems, marshes, lagoons and freshwater and brackish wetlands.
The Riet Vell Bird 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 SEO/BirdLife and which include a lagoon, a reed bed and a salt meadows area. Several species of waterfowl and shorebirds use the delta to nest, as a stop-off point on their migratory journeys or to spend the winter.
Committed to the environment
SEAT is committed to the environmental objectives set out in the Paris Agreement. Since 2010, the company has reduced its environmental production footprint by 43% and aims to achieve a zero carbon footprint by 2050. To this end, the company has launched the global corporate mission Move to ZERØ, which entails a global project to decarbonise all mobility products and solutions throughout their lifecycle - from design, procurement of raw materials and production to the end of their life. It also includes the objective of contributing to the improvement of air quality driven by the electrification of the range and an efficient management of the waste.
As part of its sustainability strategy, SEAT earmarked 27 million euros for investments in sustainable initiatives in 2019 and has also carried out actions to help maintain the biodiversity of its surroundings. Specifically, the car company launched reforestation projects and installed nest boxes to protect birds in the Llobregat Delta and participated in the creation of the botanical garden in the Can Casas park in Martorell, where SEAT employees planted 80 trees of different native species and set up an area to protect the Hyla Meridionalis frog.
Volkswagen Group environmental focus
The donation to the Ebro Delta project is being made under an agreement between the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Volkswagen Group. In the agreement with the EIB, made in December 2018, the Volkswagen Group voluntarily undertook to spend a total of €10 million on environmental and sustainability projects as part of its commitment to sustainability. The Ebro Delta restoration project is part of this global initiative.