Secondary network of the Segarra-Garrigues irrigation system
Description of social and environmental performance.
The area where the irrigation network was constructed bordered with Secans Belianes Preixana, an area that forms part of the Natura 2000 network, considered a Special Protection Area (SPA) and Community Interest Area (CIA). Among the bird species present in the area, a number of steppe birds are subject to special protection: the little bustard (Terax tetrax), the European Roller (Coracias garrulus), the Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) and the Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calender).
According to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the irrigation project planned for this area would affect these species, which meant that conservation measures would have to be implemented.
To prevent these works affecting the avifauna present in the area, certain areas originally included in the plans were excluded from the irrigation project and allocations previously assigned in other areas, were reduced.
In the initial planning work, it was established that an ornithologist would carry out an inspection was prior to the execution of any clearing work, in order to identify the presence of protected birds in these areas. These inspections were carried out in coordination with the works and were carried out at least one week prior to machinery entering the site in order to ensure the validity of the observations. Furthermore, the works planning was adapted to take into account results obtained in previous ornithological inspections.
The works plan was also affected by the phenology of the agricultural vegetation that had to be taken into account, prioritising entry into cereal fields once the harvest was completed. These actions meant that we managed to reduce alterations to the steppe bird’s habitat and damage to the landowner´s property.
On the other hand, indirect causes that could affect the birds also had to be taken into account, and the appropriate measures taken to limit them. These measures led to the reduction, where possible, of noise and dust emissions, speed limits within the works area, and ensuring machinery was in good condition by carrying out the necessary checks.
Before clearing work took place, the sampling plan was carried out as planned. In most routes no species were identified which would affect the pace of the work, as these birds did not have a permanent base there, and would therefore not be directly affected by the works. On only one occasion a female sisón was identified who could possibly nest in the area to be cleared. As a result of the ornithologist’s observation, the clearing plan was modified, resulting in a week´s delay to the works. A subsequent inspection discarded the presence of any nests belonging to this species, and therefore work could be continued as normal.