Environmental, social and economic indicators selection. Monitoring protocols
Some of the core environmental concerns are:
- Water availability, for which a permanent weather station has been installed at site in Gran Canaria which allows technical team to analyse weather behaviour to the minute. Additionally other environmental factors are being monitored by the weather station e.g. soil humidity, wind component, fog occurrence, etc. On the other hand, areas in Portugal are monitored through nearby weather stations.
- Habitat disturbance or destruction with special attention to protected species. In this case the field team takes special care of the areas where they develop vegetation clearance or terrain transformation in order to avoid impacting the natural landscape in a detrimental way.
- Air pollution and noise safety has been ratified by the EIA done prior to the beginning of this project (see Action-A5). Human wellbeing is the main concern. Therefore, noise or air pollution thresholds (dust, GHG emissions) as determined by current regulation, will not be breached.
- Furthermore, the Fog Water Collectors do not require significant terrain transformation nor the use of heavy machinery for their installation, preventing negative effects on the soil. During the development process of this project, preventive measures will be placed and regularly monitored to ensure minimal environmental impact in terms of waste, soil, water and biodiversity.
As per soil quality, first analyses done by one of Life Nieblas’ partners, CREAF has suggested an area good aptitude for planting, with a loamy texture, slightly acidic pH, and low conductivity in Gran Canaria. However, low nutrient and organic matter content in some soils could represent a limitation for the development of an herbaceous cover. Moreover, Mg levels are relatively high which could affect Ca assimilation. This has resulted in the Steering Committee (SC) to make the decision of implementing remediation measures (i.e. adding compost to the new reforestation areas).
On the other hand, Portugal sites soils present similar characteristics. Soils show an acceptable aptitude for planting, with a high percentage of < 2mm fractions, high organic matter content (7.6-11.1%) and a low conductivity. However, the acidic pH (4.6-5.2) and the sandy texture, with a very low clay content (<5%), could favour nutrient leaching from organic matter mineralization. Recommendation to incorporate organic amendment to the reforestations has been made by the SC.
Erosion has also been monitored at both sites and no significant erosive processes where found apart from surface runoff due to wildfires and lack of vegetation, which is currently being tackled by reforestation activities.
Seedlings’ monitoring is being done in a yearly basis (right after reforestation activities and one year after). Stem growth, width, foliage & root system development are measured and input into our self-developed App that allows all technicians in the project to have readily access to the data for analysis.
General vegetation cover of the sites has also been done by examining what species are mostly present throughout the terrain. After the 4 years of project, this vegetation cover review will be done again and compared to first readings. This information help technicians understand how the reforestation is affecting ecology surrounding it and vice versa.
Socially, Life-Nieblas expects to attract attention from partners, national public bodies and at EU level, and to generate public engagement through the cultural and environmental interest that this project will raise. All the data, and results collected from this project will be communicated through several channels such as webs, leaflets, books and technical consulting that will help the public learn the techniques developed and apply them thereafter. Moreover, Life-Nieblas will have an economic impact from the generation of several new jobs during the construction and reforestation phases and also afterwards, with the monitoring and maintenance of the xeric Laurisilva forest as well as the touristic attraction that this new forest may generate.
⏱️Weather station timelapse 📡🛰️Life Nieblas' team has installed a weather station through which weather patterns are logged and analysed. ✅Results derived from weather data will help us understand how fog behaves in this area and also identify weather patterns and extreme conditions events. Such parameters include: 🧭Wind speed & direction 👁️Visibility 🌧️Rain accumulation ☀️Radiation index 💧Dew point 🌦️Relative humidity 📊Monitoring in-situ will be highly valuable when presentating results and drawing conclusions.