The Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus) is an endemic subspecies in the Iberian Peninsula and the most endangered species in Portugal. Its national conservation status is classified as "in Danger." At the end of the 20th century, anthropogenic factors increasingly impacted the area of distribution of this species, mainly due to the growing construction of roads and energy infrastructures (wind power and hydro power), as well as the frequent forest fires. Since 2000, this species has been specifically mentioned in EIA legislation.
In 2006 EDP Renováveis, together with other wind companies operating near the Iberian wolf habitat, financed the Association for the Conservation of the Iberian Wolf Habitat (ACHLI), recognizing the challenge of balancing wind production in the area and the protection of the Iberian wolf in its vicinity. The goal was to collectively preserve natural and cultural landscapes in sensitive areas of the region by developing projects that would benefit the conservation of the Iberian wolf's habitat. All projects consider the current status of the wolf packs within the target areas, as well as the surrounding socio-economic environment, which in many cases is essential for the success of the projects.
Sensitize and raise awareness
ACHLI's management approach is based on a multi-stakeholder participatory process that strongly advocates the involvement of local actors such as municipalities, parish councils, owners, hunting zone management entities and local NGOs, among others. Within the scope of the Mitigation Hierarchy process, the different actions of minimization, compensation and monitoring involve conservation and awareness actions in the three main objectives: promoting the abundance of natural prey for Iberian wolves, reducing human disturbance and reducing conflicts with the population.
Since 2006, the Association has actively participated in the design and construction phases of 102 wind farms, 10 of which belong to EDP and only 46 had a mandatory environmental impact assessment. All the others were voluntary commitments from the promoters of the wind farms. More than 218 projects have been developed, and in 2010 the Association's success led to the expansion of its activities beyond the initial regions of wind power plants.
From the perspective of the members, it was a clear benefit to work collectively on this common challenge. The synergies allowed the conservation projects to be concentrated beyond the members' responsibility, benefiting this iconic Portuguese species threatened with extinction.