LIFE Ebro Resilience P1 is a flood risk management and environmental restoration project, with the contribution of the European Union’s LIFE financial instrument. In addition to developing actions to mitigate flooding phenomena, it also works to improve the ecological state of the Ebro River. morphological adaptation and environmental restoration of the Ebro river in the meander of “La Roza”, in Alfaro, La Rioja.has been a success by contributing to the increase in the surface area of the Natura 2000 Network. “Sotos y Riberas del Ebro”..
On May 21, the European Day of the Natura 2000 Network is celebrated and on this occasion, the LIFE Project focuses on one of its objectives, river restoration following the action plans of the sites integrated in this Network.
Specifically, 22 hectares of river space have been recovered in the meander, thus increasing the river’s natural flood zone and adding these lands to the Natura 2000 Network, by protected area of the “Sotos y Riberas del Ebro”, through Decree 46/2022 of August 17 of the Government of La Rioja, partner of the LIFE Ebro Resilience P1 project.
The recovery of the meander has been achieved by recessing a dike that constricted the riverbed and which has been replaced by a more distant and shorter defense, a work carried out by the Ebro Hydrographic Confederation, also a partner in the Project. In this area, the Government of La Rioja will carry out an environmental restoration with the planting of riverbank species.
The decree also declares the Natura Network Area “Sotos y Riberas del Ebro”, with a total area of 57.87 hectares within the scope of the Project, as ZEPA (Special Protection Area for Birds) and also integrates the actions of morphological adaptation of the Ebro River and restoration of riparian forests of the LIFE Ebro Resilience P1 Project into the action program of the Natura 2000 Management Plan.
Participation is another of the pillars of the LIFE Project, and following this line, at the beginning of this month a forum was held in the town of Alfaro, open to the entire riverside population, to gather proposals for future uses of this land incorporated into the river area. All proposals had to respect the uses permitted in the master plan for this protected area.
Red natura in the Ebro
The Natura 2000 Network is a set of protected areas that have been declared for the conservation of certain habitats and the species that live in them.
In the middle stretch of the Ebro there are 7 protected areas belonging to the Natura 2000 Network and linked to the river environment, 63% of its length being integrated within it. There are 16 habitats of community interest in these areas.
The intervention areas of the LIFE Ebro Resilience P1 Project overlap with two of these areas, specifically with the Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) “Sotos y Riberas del Ebro” in La Rioja, and “Sotos y Mejanas del Ebro” in the province of Zaragoza.
In the meander of La Roza, in Alfaro, the defensive embankment has been completed, the drainage capacity of the eyes of the railroad bridge has been improved and the water circulation branches have been reopened in the undergrowth behind the bridge.
The combination of both actions will improve the efficiency of water flow in flood situations, reducing the damage caused by floods. In addition to this, actions have been taken to eliminate invasive flora species.
Work is currently focused on the construction of a relief channel, an additional arm for the river that will operate at high water and facilitate the flow of water through the meander during floods. 800 m long and 100 m wide and located on the right bank of the Ebro River, its purpose is to take advantage of the entire section of the railroad bridge, which with the old defense was limited.
The La Roza project is part of the first section of intervention of the LIFE project, Zone 1, called “Combined Section of Actions” between Alfaro, in La Rioja, and Castejón, in Navarra, which consists of a succession of natural water retention measures. Specifically, reconnection of meanders, relief channels, restoration of lost branches of the river and recovery of river space as flood plains.
Zone 2 of the LIFE project is located in the Osera de Ebro-Fuentes de Ebro section in Zaragoza. These are the setback and construction projects for the new defenses and, on the other hand, the construction project for the implementation of the lateral flow buffer zones.
The LIFE Ebro Resilience P1 project (LIFE20 ENV/ES/00327), approved by the European Commission in the LIFE2020 call, will be carried out in three autonomous communities (La Rioja, Navarra and Aragón), with a duration of 6 years and a total budget of 13,310,350 €, with 55% of European funding.
This project is also an example of institutional coordination and cooperation in the intervention section, its partners being the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITECO), through its companies TRAGSA and TRAGSATEC; the Ebro Hydrographic Confederation; the Government of La Rioja; the Government of Navarra, through Gestión Ambiental de Navarra, S.A. (GAN-NIK); the Government of Aragón and the Aragonese Water Institute.