Xunta of Galicia and University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) will collaborate over the next five years in the transnational project LIFE INSULAR to achieve the integrated restoration of the habitats of the Cíes, Ons and Sálvora islands, belonging to the Maritime-Terrestrial National Park of the Galician Atlantic Islands.
The role of coordinator will fall to USC while the regional government will be in charge of the technical execution of the initiative, as stated in the partnership agreement signed this morning at IBADER between the Regional Minister of Environment, Territory and Housing, Ángeles Vázquez, and USC rector, Antonio López.
The objective of the project is to promote a favorable conservation status of the habitats of the island areas belonging to Natura 2000 in the Atlantic Ocean, while increasing their resilience as a measure of adaptation to climate change. To this end, the focus will be on 8 Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) located in 5 islands that are —in addition to the three Galician archipelagos— La Graciosa, in the Canary Islands, and Éire.
Through this transnational collaboration initiative, the impact of possible external disturbances on the areas of action will be minimized —risk of gales, catastrophic wind erosion...— and, as explained by the Minister, a recovery of the natural landscape will also be sought of these islands with the challenge of "reverting" the situation to which it existed 70 years ago.
To achieve these objectives, the project plans to carry out a series of actions on the field focused on habitat types 2130* and 4030, corresponding to fixed coastal dunes and European dry heaths. This role will correspond to Xunta de Galicia, which will carry out actions to eliminate and control plant invasive alien species; suppression of forest plantations; and protection measures against human activities that affect these habitats, such as the control of visitor traffic or the installation of passive collectors of sand.
Likewise, the project includes a public awareness and dissemination strategy through conferences on specific dates, such as Natura 2000 Day or the European National Parks Day, as well as volunteer actions, school workshops and the installation of information panels, among others. Lastly, an After-LIFE INSULAR conservation plan is also planned once the project is completed —with an expected end date of December 31, 2026—, which would allow it to be followed up and continued.
After signing the partnership agreement with USC, Ángeles Vázquez stressed the importance of this transnational project for Galicia, which is also leading the initiative by hosting 3 of the 5 islands on which the restoration and sustainable management of insular habitats will focus. In this sense, it is necessary to remember that the National Park of the Galician Atlantic Islands is the only Galician natural area that concentrates 6 of the main figures of environmental protection at international level, for which LIFE INSULAR will allow to protect the natural wealth that earned it these awards and prepare it to face the challenges of climate change.
Multi-year budget and partners
With a budget of more than 5.2 million euros to be executed until 2026, Xunta de Galicia will have an estimated budget of almost 750,000 euros, of which 300,000 euros will go to investment expenses; while USC will have an assigned funding of 1.08 million as coordinating beneficiary.
The economic contribution for the project by the European Commission will amount to 3.95 million euros channeled through LIFE Program, dedicated exclusively to the environment and climate action.
Among the other partners that will benefit from this transnational project, it is also necessary to mention the National Parks Autonomous Agency and TRAGSA and, on the Irish side, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) which belongs to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH), and Coillte CGA.