Brussels, October 6th, 2023. On International Geodiversity Day, LIFE ECOdigestion 2.0 joins in this global commemoration to promote the various aspects that render geodiversity a benefit to the environment and life. This date provides us with an opportunity to foster understanding and awareness of its valuable heritage, as well as to highlight the close relationship between geodiversity and biodiversity and the importance of sustainable use of natural resources to protect both.
Geodiversity in Europe
Geodiversity encompasses the broad diversity of rocks, minerals, fossils, landforms, and soil types, as well as the natural processes responsible for their formation and alteration.
The European Union has a coordinated network of protected areas known as Natura 2000, which includes around 27,000 terrestrial and marine protected spaces under the Habitats Directive and Birds Directive (known as “Nature Directives”). Additionally, EU member states have protected significant portions of their territory through national and regional protection programs.
In 2021, approximately 1.1 million square kilometers of the land area of EU member states were designated for biodiversity preservation as Natura 2000 areas or nationally protected zones. This represents over a quarter (26%) of the total land area of the EU, according to data from the European Environment Agency (EEA) and Eurostat within the framework of the European Green Deal (access to dataset here). This collective effort to conserve geodiversity highlights its high global value.
The Contribution of LIFE ECOdigestion 2.0 to Geodiversity Protection
LIFE ECOdigestion 2.0 focuses on biogas production, a form of renewable energy generated through anaerobic digestion of organic waste, offering significant environmental benefits. This technique, carried out in wastewater treatment digesters, contributes to geodiversity protection in several ways.
Firstly, it reduces water pollution by optimizing wastewater treatment, effectively removing a significant portion of contaminants present in the water, such as organic matter, nutrients, and pathogens. This protects rivers, lakes, and seas, as well as the aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity dependent on these aquatic ecosystems.
Similarly, it nourishes soils, as the resulting sludge from the process can be used as organic fertilizers in agriculture. This reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, which often contain harmful substances for soil and surrounding ecosystems. The use of these biofertilizers improves soil quality and reduces erosion, benefiting geodiversity and the health of terrestrial ecosystems.
Moreover, LIFE ECOdigestion 2.0 contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by utilizing biogas as a renewable energy source. This helps avoid the release of methane into the atmosphere, a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. This helps mitigate climate change and protect terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, contributing to preserving of natural environment diversity.
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About LIFE ECODIGESTION 2.0
LIFE ECOdigestion 2.0 is a pilot demonstration project, funded by LIFE Programme and with a budget of more than 970,000 EUR, which generates biogas in sewage treatment plant digesters by mixing putrescible organic waste (slurry, poultry, organic fractions, MSW, horeca, etc.), thus transforming sewage sludge into green energy through technology. The initiative led by Global Omnium, (Spain), in collaboration with the Finnova Foundation (Belgium) and Águas do Centro Litoral (Portugal) aims to become the most versatile digestion control tool on the market, achieving environmental and economic benefits through the production of biogas by making optimal use of waste. Thanks to this technology, it favours the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the use of sewage sludge generated in wastewater treatment processes, thus achieving a positive impact on the environment. This programme is easily scalable with other funds such as FEDER, NextGenerationEU or Repower EU.