The compensation measures, which result from the construction of the Daivões, Gouvães and Alto Tâmega dams, are being implemented during the construction phase and will continue during the project's exploration.
The Spanish electrical company highlighted some of the ongoing actions and referred that the budget for this fauna and flora compensation programme is estimated at 10.2 million Euros.
SET's Declaration of Environmental Impact (DIA) established the need to take measures to offset, from an ecological point of view, the impacts of the construction of the project, which should be completed in 2023.
In a statement, Iberdrola said that it has been working in collaboration with the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF) to develop actions that “foster the natural ecosystem” of the municipalities covered by the project.
“In total, the area to be reforested and improved, from the point of view of biodiversity, is approximately 1,000 hectares, with a forecast of planting more than 250 thousand trees and plants”, was pointed out.
In implementing these measures, according to the electrical company, joint work is being carried out with the city councils covered by the Tâmega project, namely with Boticas, Cabeceiras de Basto, Vila Pouca de Aguiar, Ribeira de Pena and Chaves.
“The objectives of this collaboration are, on the one hand, to promote the hiring of local companies and associations and, on the other, to involve the communities in these actions”, stressed the company.
The compensatory actions are, according to Iberdrola, “a great opportunity in these municipalities for the recovery of the burnt areas”.
“The worrying issue of fires was a high priority in the redesign of the regional flora, with the planting of several indigenous trees of low flammability, in strategic locations, with the objective of preventing the spread of forest fires”, the company explained.
The programme also foresees the reforestation of cork oaks, with the cultivation of this species in an area, approximately 50 percent larger than that of the affected population, totalling the planting of 18 thousand cork oaks.
“The fauna and flora compensation measures will project the design of a more varied and functional forest, with the creation of ecological corridors, which will allow an improvement in biological connectivity in the entire surrounding of the forest spaces”, Iberdrola said.
These corridors, according to the company, "will enable the movement of animals from isolated areas, ensuring greater interaction between the populations of the various species and contributing to their survival by increasing the genetic diversity and availability of food".
Iberdrola also pointed to the restoration of riparian galleries, with the objective of "creating conditions for greater survival of various species".
"As an example, the water mole, an animal that needs a favourable habitat and particular requirements to thrive, which makes it a bioindicator, is being targeted by an extraordinary intervention process", was stressed.
The company also explained that "several protected species are being transferred and produced using laboratory techniques that ensure the maintenance of the natural ecosystem of these locations and the improved rebirth of all native fauna and flora".
Among the compensatory measures for the construction of the SET, the river mussel breeding centre, installed in the Nature and Biodiversity Park, in Boticas, and which is unique in the Iberian Peninsula, also stands out.
It is a threatened species (margaritiferous margaritiferous), which came to be considered extinct in Portugal and was rediscovered in a fortuitous way, in 2009, in Boticas, halting the construction of the Padroselos dam, which was initially planned in SET.
SET is one of the largest hydroelectric projects in Europe, in the last 25 years, including the construction of three dams (Daivões, Gouvães and Alto Tâmega) and an investment of 1,500 million Euros.
The complex, which should be completed in 2023, will have an installed capacity of 1,158 megawatts (MW), reaching an annual production of 1,760 gigawatt hours (GWh), that is, 6 percent of the country's electrical consumption.