As a result of our Environmental Policy and its respective impact management strategy, by 2030, we are aiming to achieve a generally positive balance in terms of the impact of new projects on biodiversity, thus contributing to Sustainable Development Goal No. 15 (Protection of Life on Land) of the United Nations. A commitment that reinforces the importance of the contributions of science to develop methodologies capable of improving the monitoring of the quality of habitats and promote more agile viable solutions for the conservation of ecosystems.
EDP, together with the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), is co-financing the continuation of the EDP Biodiversity Chair for the 2018-2020 period, with a set of scientific research work dedicated to the management of biodiversity impacts, conservation and monitoring. The Chair attributed to the University of Porto, managed by the Centre for Research into Biodiversity and Genetic Resources (CIBIO-InBIO), is being developed by a research group dedicated to applied ecology (ApplEcol). This is led by the researcher Pedro Beja, the holder of the actual chair, whose works reinforce the continuity of a line of research aimed at the development and implementation of metabarcoding tools for monitoring aquatic ecosystems, an emerging area of knowledge and which uses the DNA collected in the environment (environmental DNA or environmental genomics).
The Chair is based on 3 research areas:
- Environmental genomics, already mentioned due to its innovative character, which occurs in reservoirs and waterways, particularly those associated with EDP ventures and activities, and the main issues concern the characterization of fish communities and the detection of invasive species in reservoirs used for hydroelectric projects. Monitoring the quality of waterways with recourse to eDNA techniques has as its final goal the development of new cost-efficient biological monitoring techniques, while at the same time producing important information that helps solve problems in the management of biodiversity impact and which contributes to a Biodiversity offsets goal with No Net Loss or, preferably, Net Gains for biodiversity. The activities of the new EDP Biodiversity Chair started on 18 and 19 December 2018, with an international meeting of experts, where the implementation of eDNA techniques for environmental monitoring of water in Portugal was discussed;
- Mitigation of usage impacts, that focuses on the development of conceptual models and methodological approaches that promote a better management of the mitigation of negative impacts on biodiversity in hydroelectric production uses. That is, to increase ecological knowledge about the impacts of these electricity production technologies on biodiversity, so that these impacts are effectively mitigated by the compensatory measures already implemented. In order to achieve this, the work developed during the previous Chair will be continued, in particular the studies on the construction of the Baixo Sabor Hydroelectric Power Station (AHBS) and the Foz Tua Hydroelectric Power Station (AHFT). In this context, priority will be given to the continuity of the work carried out as part of the long-term research site at Baixo Sabor (LTER Sabor Site), initially established with FCT funding and which has been supported by EDP Produção.
It is also intended to continue the partnership already established between EDP Produção and the national branch of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) so that EDP, as the publisher of this sharing platform, which provides continuity to the publication of occurrence data for species collected within the scope of the works for the environmental impact assessment and monitoring of AHBS and AHFT.
- Mitigation of impacts of the electricity distribution network, a research component that has not been addressed in the previous EDP Biodiversity Chair, which is related to the work that has been developed by EDP Distribuição in mitigating the impacts of electric lines on birds, including electrocution and collision problems. In this context, we intend to provide an additional scientific contribution to the result of the work that has been developed by the Technical and Scientific Committee for Monitoring Power Lines and Birds – CTALEA –, since 2003, within the framework of successive Avifauna Protocols, in particular regarding the impact of the measures adopted on the population dynamics of the most sensitive species.