Our natural resources are extremely valuable, that is why we operate under the principles of innovation and progress, and the premise is to beenvironmentally responsible and sustainable. This marks our path towards the ongoing work together with the communities, caring for the environment surrounding us, and bringing wellbeing and development to the regions, in harmony with nature.
An example of this vision is Enel Colombia’s El Quimbo Hydroelectric Power Plant,currently the Enel Group’s largest power plant in Latin America. Ever since the startup of its construction, the main focus has been upon the protection and preservation of the ecosystem surrounding the project. The design of multiple strategies aimed at preserving biodiversity in the area has been essential for this purpose.
A unique ecosystem in the world
The tropical dry forestecosystem is one of the most important to preserve at a worldwide level, due to the numerous flora and wildlife it harbors. Currently it is one of the least exploredforests and is considered to be one of the most threatened anddegraded. Specifically in Colombia, according to the Alexander Von HumboldtInstitute, there were9 million hectaresof tropical dry forest, out of which only 8% remain today.
As part of the measures set by the El Quimbo Hydroelectric Power Plan’s Environmental License, the first large scale Ecological Restoration Program in Colombia was developed, with the purpose of restoring 11,079 hectares of tropical dry forest located close to the reservoir, in the municipalities of El Agrado, Gigante, Garzón, Paicol, andTesaliain the Huila department.
Long term work
In order for the execution of this program to be successful it was necessary to carry out a pilot plan, which was carried out since 2014 until April, 2018, jointly with FundaciónNatura, an organization with more than 30 years of experience in environmental preservation issues. For the first phase, 140 hectares distributed in different areas were selected,where ecological studies and scientific analyses were conducted, which led to the discovery of 260 species of flora from 194 different genera; a new species of Bromeliad was discovered, the PitcairnHuilensis, endemic to the eastern slopes of the Central Mountain Range; 155 bird species were identified, along with 29 mammal species, 23 reptiles and 12 amphibians;more than 214,000 seedlings, belonging to 62 species, were propagated; and more than 55 restoration strategies were selected, which proved to be the most effective and suitable to be replicated in a large scale in all of the hectares covered by the project.
In the execution of this pilot plan, more than 200 persons were hired, including professionals, technicians, and field assistants. The active participation of academia was also included enabling the consolidation of the first Research Center and practical knowledge with respect to the country’s tropical dry forest. This center has a plant nursery, offices, laboratories, and ecological trails, which it has made available for the development of 16 researchstudies carried out by 20 students from various universities.
Based on the results obtained from this pilot plan, we began the second phase of our ecological restoration program, which includes the intervention of 500 hectares during the next 3 years, and the goal is that, by 2024,El Huila will have more than 2,000 hectarescompletely restored.
Preservation of our ecosystems as a mission
Since Environmental sustainability is a fundamental aspect of our entrepreneurial strategy, we wish to foster the development of initiatives such as our ecological restoration programin the country, aimed at the preservation of our natural resources. That is why we held the symposium called “Ecological restoration, a fundamental part of environmental sustainability of Colombia”, in which important representatives and experts in environmental matters participated, presenting the successful results we obtained in our pilot plan, and highlighting the importance of working together and linking the different actors, in order to achieve sustainability for the environmental projects being undertaken in the long term.
“The fundamental reason for this meeting is to share the best practices and strategies we have identified to date with the country, through the Pilot Plan of our El Quimbo Ecological Restoration Program. This program that we started in El Huila is a sample of our social and environmental commitment with Colombia, contributing to the protection of the environment and promoting the development of scientific knowledge”
– Lucio Rubio, General Director.