Preserving our planet’s flora and fauna has become crucial for humanity’s survival. How can steel help?
The foods, the water, the air and the climate that allows our life on the planet are possible thanks to nature.
In the past year, the vast fires in Australia and the Amazon and their effects on the local flora and fauna were front and center on the global environmental agenda. Then came the coronavirus pandemic which showed us that restricting people’s circulation and activities ended up having a positive impact on air quality. There is an increasing awareness of the importance of caring for the environment, since people's health is closely linked to the health of the planet’s ecosystems.
This June 5, World Environment Day focuses on the role of biodiversity as a pillar of life on Earth. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include those related to biodiversity, the conservation of underwater life and terrestrial ecosystems.
These are examples of some biodiversity projects which Ternium is helping to support:
A view of the reserve surrounding the Pesquería Industrial Center
México: Rescue and conservation
Ever since the Pesquería Industrial Center (CIT) plans were first laid on the table, an area of 99 hectares was earmarked to be an ecological reserve. Today this area is an "oasis of fresh air" for Nuevo León.
During the seven years after its inauguration, 32,386 plant specimens and 681 fauna species were rescued between the first and second CIT projects, explained Luis Rechy, Environment manager at Ternium México.
“We have been successful in cultivating so many species of flora, and although the reserve was originally not intended to be for all these kinds of fauna, it’s a logical consequence of having a large nature reserve. You can see birds, rabbits, and coyotes. At certain times of the year, there are migratory bird routes, so species arrive, stay here for a while to regain strength and then continue on their journey,” said Rechy.
In addition, 71,101 plant species have been planted in Pesquería, taking in the area around projects 1 and 2, as well as Techgen, Tenigal, the Roberto Rocca Technical School and the municipal areas.
Other projects have focused on providing education on biodiversity issues. In 2019, Peña Colorada (a mining company in which Ternium has a 50% interest), joined the Autonomous University of Mexico and the Benemérita University of Puebla in an initiative which resulted in the publication of the “Illustrated Guide to Wild Fauna in the Conservation and Restoration Areas in Minatitlán, Colima and Jalisco.” The guide describes the biological diversity of 124 species of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals to be found in the area.
Gray dolphins in the Sepetiba bay, near Ternium Brazil
Brazil: Dolphins in Sepetiba Bay
A river, mangroves and a broad diversity of ecosystems flourish around the Ternium plant in Santa Cruz, in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro, where efforts have been made to protect some 600 hectares of mangroves and the Sepetiba Bay biome.
In 2019, Ternium Brazil launched a project to study and conserve the “boto cinza”, or Guiana dolphin, a threatened species living in the bay which coexists with ship traffic, as well as sanitary and industrial waste. The study was carried out with financing from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and the Boto Cinza Institute with a view to increasing knowledge about the dolphin’s migratory patterns, diet, and the influence of water quality on its health, in order to improve conservation techniques.
“Our goal is to establish a harmonious coexistence between our operations and the environment, and to achieve this, it’s essential to have a deeper understanding of our biodiversity. This project will help us learn more about the interaction between the different dolphin species living in Sepetiba Bay, as well as being a significant scientific contribution to the community and to Brazil, since the Guiana dolphin is on the Red List of Threatened species in conservation terms,” highlights Luciana Campello, an environment analyst, in charge of monitoring the project.
The creation of an ecological corridor in the surroundings of the facilities allows species to move around.
Colombia: An ecological corridor
During the construction of the greenfield project in Palmar de Varela, a fauna rescue and relocation program was put into action, leading to the resettlement of over 1,200 animals, including amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Launched in May 2018, the program is still going strong, as fauna continues to be found within the work areas.
Adriana Serna, Head of the Andean Environment department, explains that the initial blueprints for the project included specific points to enable environmental connectivity, allowing species to move from one place to another without encountering any obstacles and without suspending the ecological corridor around the industrial facility.
"The program has raised awareness about the importance of understanding, protecting and respecting the region's biodiversity. There is no doubt that daily coexistence with these native species has created a sense of belonging and identity among workers, as they’ve seen how the Environment Area has carried out a range of safe fauna rescues for animals such as snakes, frogs, and birdlife, among others. At the same time, we’re demonstrating the importance of these species for the balance of the environment and their relationship with humans through our actions,” says Serna.
Ternium, Tenaris and Tecpetrol have contributed to this effort which involves many different actors from both public and private spheres by providing pipe, galvanized sheet metal and transportation.
Argentina: Recognized by National Geographic
The conservation and restoration initiative carried out by the Rewilding Argentina Foundation in the Esteros de Iberá, supported by Ternium, Tenaris and Tecpetrol, has been selected as one of the seven best models of environmental conservation worldwide.
The distinction is part of the “The Last Wild Places” initiative, which aims to ensure that 30% of the planet's surface is protected by sustainable development systems by 2030. Accordingly, the National Geographic Society identified good examples of organizations working on the ground to run successful ecosystem conservation and restoration models which also take into account the development of local economies. One of the projects selected was the Rewilding project in the Iberá Park nature reserve in Corrientes.
Ternium, Tenaris and Tecpetrol have provided support to the efforts which are being carried out by several different actors from public and private spheres, by supplying pipes, galvanized sheet metal and transportation. Ternium's galvanized sheets, added to pipes provided by Tenaris and Tecpetrol, have made it possible to build corrals at the Jaguar Reintroduction Center and other endangered species in the Ibera Park wetlands reserve of Esteros del Iberá The first cubs born in the project facilities are expected to be released into the wild later on this year.
“As the Techint Organization, we are very proud to have been a key part of this unique project, in which steel plays a fundamental role. It’s a bit of a 'Jurassic Park' initiative to reintroduce species that disappeared 60 years ago in this ecosystem, so it’s a Nobel Prize for conservation,” commented José Fonrouge, Ternium's Director of Environment.