The Azores concession has received the “Espírito Verde” (Green Spirit) environmental award. The Azores Government presents this annual prize to recognize and emphasize the environmental commitments made by companies, institutions, and individuals who stand out for their good environmental practices, whether in the field of environmental research, activism, volunteering, or sponsorship.
Azores’ Regional Secretariat for the Environment and Climate Change presented this award to the FAYA project at the gala held on Sunday, June 5, coinciding with World Environment Day. On that day, they pay their tribute from the Azores to companies that are working every day to conserve the natural habitat and the environment where they live. The Azores concession had the privilege of being the winner in the category of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality, thanks to its significant efforts to safeguard and protect diversity and the landscape.
The main goal of the FAYA project is the landscape integration of the concession’s roads with the island’s landscape, ensuring the creation of a green corridor.
The project consists of cultivating and planting endemic and native plants or those that are of significant interest to the landscape in the areas near the road.
The use of endemic and native species contributes to greater biodiversity and ecosystem resilience by creating favorable conditions for nature to thrive in an autonomous area by recovering what its domain once was and supporting the protection and care of existing fauna.
This environmental project aims to reinforce the concept of “greenways” on the island. This way, the infrastructure can be integrated into and fused with the landscape, helping the landscape stay as natural and unchanged as possible.
Manuel Cunha, CEO of the Azores concession, remarks, “The idea behind this project was to eliminate the purchase of plants from suppliers and reduce the areas that need mowing in the concession by establishing a continuous green space in the road corridor with surroundings that are characteristic of the island. The Azores islands possess an environmental uniqueness that we must protect and preserve.” This project also makes it possible to strengthen the slopes’ resistance to the effects of climate change and favor the recovery of natural habitats. Similarly, Manuel highlights some of the benefits for drivers: “Better visual quality of the road environment directly benefits the user; if the road landscape is camouflaged in the environment, that helps reduce the visual impact the infrastructure has on the natural environment. This visual change helps eliminate one of the most influential factors in traffic accidents.”
Some of the main benefits of the project are:
– It promotes and protects the natural heritage by planting endemic and/or native species, favoring the area’s biodiversity.
– There are lower maintenance costs since mowing is reduced and the garden area is expanded with species that require little maintenance.
– It helps eliminate invasive plants.
– It helps lower the carbon footprint by mitigating environmental pollution: fewer fossil fuels are used due to the elimination of caring for the grass, which helps capture CO2.
– It helps reduce noise pollution by minimizing the level of noise stemming from maintenance.
– It increases safety for our professionals by directly lowering their exposure to risk in maintenance work on steep slopes.
– It improves the aesthetics of the urban fabric and the landscape integration of the road corridor.
– It improves soil quality and reinforces protection against erosion and climate change, especially in areas with slopes.
– It contributes to the increase and improvement in native honey production by planting species needed by bees (food for bees and support for the production of bee products).