The President of the Principality of Asturias, Adrián Barbón, and Repsol and Repsol Foundation Chairman, Antonio Brufau, have signed an agreement this morning in Oviedo to boost the Green Engine project in this autonomous community.
In Asturias, 3,500 hectares of barren lands or those affected by fires will be reforested in different municipalities over the next three years. The new forests will absorb 1.1 million tons of CO₂ from the atmosphere and, thanks to Green Engine, the companies and institutions that join the project will be able to offset their emissions. A total investment of €17.5 million is due to be allocated to this project, of which €16.3 million corresponds to forests and forestry infrastructures.
The reforestation works will commence this fall in the southwestern part of Asturias with the planting of approximately 180,000 native species across 200 hectares in the municipality of Grandas de Salime, which was ravaged by two fires in 2017. The aim is to reforest 460 hectares in the coming years and continue rolling out the projects in new areas throughout Asturias.
The reforestation driven by Green Engine will not only allow for a recovery of native forest, but will also protect the damaged land, improving biodiversity and guaranteeing resilience in the long term.
In addition to the environmental benefits, the project was also conceived to promote the development of a green and sustainable economy, particularly in rural areas. Approximately 700 workers from the area will be hired for the plantings in Asturias over the next three years, with 70% belonging to vulnerable groups, helping to keep people living and working in the region. Furthermore, programs will be set up as part of the project to provide training and foster innovation and technological development in the forestry sector. The activity generated by this project will support the local business network of the areas being reforested, revitalizing the rural economy in Asturias and activities related to tourism and the services sector.
The Chairman of Repsol highlighted that this project is especially relevant for the company and its Foundation 'because Repsol is committed to creating a new economy that not only considers the economic impact, but also takes into account social and environmental factors.'. Antonio Brufau stressed Repsol's commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, for which we will rely on all the available technologies, with reforestation as an additional tool that is set to bring about extraordinarily beneficial direct impacts, such as creating a green economy, local and inclusive employment, recovering biodiversity, and driving business in rural settings.
The President of the Principality of Asturias noted that 'Asturias is ideal' for developing the Green Engine project, and outlined four key points: 'it is a prime example of public-private collaboration', 'it helps to keep people living in rural areas as job creation is the best possible demographic magnet', 'it reflects environmental awareness', and 'it proves that the environmental transition also brings about great opportunities'. For Barbón, the declaration of intent agreed upon between Repsol Foundation and the Regional Government of Asturias is proof that the rural environment is not only involved in the energy transition, but it can also leverage it to boost prosperity and create more jobs.
Green Engine is an innovative initiative by Repsol Foundation and its investee company Sylvestris, and is on the way to becoming one of the biggest large-scale reforestation projects for offsetting emissions in Spain.
Taking a differential approach, the project aims to generate a positive triple impact: environmental, social, and economic. It will do this by restoring natural spaces and contributing to the action against climate change, by creating local and inclusive employment, and by being committed to a green investment for the future, revitalizing the local business network in the rural environment.
The overall goal of Green Engine is to reforest up to 70,000 hectares in Spain to promote the offsetting of 16 million tons of CO₂. This project will create more than 15,000 local and inclusive job opportunities in the rural environment and has become an ambitious commitment to a social, green, and sustainable economy.
The operational side of the forestry projects will be led by the Sylvestris Group, a Repsol Foundation investee company, which has more than 30 years of experience in the forestry sector. The new forests will be designed in accordance with the highest standards of the Spanish Climate Change Office (OECC), which is the official certification body for offsetting projects in Spain, part of the Ministry for the Environmental Transition and the Demographic Challenge.
Technology will play a fundamental role in every phase of the project: locating and evaluating land, analyzing future scenarios, processing data and decision-making, producing certified high-quality forestry material and future follow-up. To do all of this, the latest technologies in Geographic Information Systems, drones, sensor systems, biochemistry, robotics, satellites, and blockchain will all be used to create the forests.
This methodology makes the Green Engine project stand out from other reforestation initiatives, as the land work helps to precisely determine aspects such as the appropriate density of the new forest, the variety of species, as well as following up on their survival and development, all of which are key to ensuring their long-term resilience.
What's more, Green Engine also has a clear focus on job creation and rural development, and is equipped with a methodology that is sustainable over time, creating wealth for the environment.
Green Engine is based on an innovative public-private collaboration model to boost economic recovery and rural development in the wake of COVID-19. It is also aligned with the 2030 Agenda and the European Green Deal.
The project is already up and running in Extremadura, with the support of Junta de Extremadura, Banco Santander, the Tierra Pura Foundation, Enagás, and Ilunion, and is expected to soon be extended to new autonomous communities, with the collaboration of both the Public Administration as well as other private entities and companies.