COP21 Solutions – Biodiversity: using plants to stop soil erosion
ENGIE puts biodiversity protection at the heart of its commitments to limit the impact of its activities on ecosystems. The ENGIE solution for combating soil erosion by using indigenous plants is one example of a natural solution that protects the plant and animal world, and helps energy facilities to cope with extreme climate events.
Context and challenges
The aim of the solution is to combat erosion by using plants to stabilize their native soils in and around the Group's facilities in Mexico following extreme climate events, such as violent winds or flooding... at the same time as providing an attractive habitat for local plants and animals.
The use of plants to combat soil erosion began in 2013 at the Monterey facility in Mexico. It was then adopted by the Mexican gas pipeline operator Gasoductos El Bajio and the local natural gas supply company to combat soil erosion in Aguascalientes and the State of Tamaulipas. The Mexican Secretariat of Communications and Transportation is also considering the deployment of the solution to other locations.
The plants selected for soil erosion solutions are usually indigenous species - those which originate in the location concerned and reproduce there - and share the following characteristics:
- they are resistant to extreme events, such as flooding and drought
- they are perennials and have a root structure that helps to prevent soil erosion
- their roots grow long enough and deep enough to secure soil that would otherwise be subject to erosion
The introduction of native plants to an area of around 3 hectares on the hill overlooking the Monterey facility has proven extremely effective, since neither the hill nor the road that runs through the Monterey combined heat and power plant has suffered from erosion following severe storms. In stark contrast, those sections of road not protected by this type of anti-erosion measure (approx. 5 hectares) were extensively damaged as a direct result of hurricane Alex.
- Cutting the cost of remediating storm-driven soil erosion by 90%