LIFE Project Cover Photo

Integrated management of lighting in the Albufera Nature Reserve (Valencia)

Reference: LIFE03 ENV/E/000118 | Acronym: ECOLIGHT

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

The pollution caused by light is one of the many problems arising from two conflicting interests; the need to preserve the environment on the one hand and human action on the other. The "Albufera Nature Reserve" is a good example of this. This outstanding 5000 hectares nature reserve has been declared both a "Site of Community Interest" (Council Directive 92/43/CE), a "Special Protection Area for Birds" (Council Directive 79/409/CE), and also a Ramsar wetland. However, it is located only a few kilometres from the city of Valencia, a major tourist destination, and thus also a major source of light pollution. The current lighting in the nature reserve resulted from urban development in the 60?s and 70?s, and the increasing numbers of tourists. Some of the shortcomings and problems associated with the lighting are listed below: ?The lighting is clearly over dimensioned, due to the lack of regulations that take environmental aspects into account. ?A considerable amount of energy is wasted due to the design of the lights, use of high consumption bulbs and the unnecessary lighting up of areas which are not used. ?Mercury vapour lamps are used abundantly; these contain highly pollutant waste and are very harmful to insects as they produce emissions on the ultraviolet wavelength. Species of insects which are affected include : Glaresis thiniensis, Coleoptera, Idaea saleri, Lepidoptera (endemic to the park) and Proserpinus proserpina, Lepidoptera (incl. in the annexes of the EC Habitats Directive - 92/43/EEC). ?Light intrudes in areas that should not be lit and this affects a total of 21 habitats identified as being of Community interest. Several studies exist which indicate that light pollution has direct negative effects on vertebrate nocturnal fauna, flora and plankton. The many environmental impacts of light pollution in the "Albufera Nature Reserve" can be summarized as follows: energy expensive, generates pollutant waste, affects habitats and species of Community interest, and produces a negative impact on the landscape.


OBJECTIVES

The ECOLIGHT project aimed to correct the light pollution produced by urban and recreational use in the Albufera Nature Reserve. The project had three main objectives: - Reduce the impact of light pollution on the fauna and habitats which are of Community interest or endemic to the park. - Save energy by using a more efficient and appropriate lighting system. - Reduce the contaminating elements associated with the existing lighting (mercury vapour lamps). Furthermore, it was to establish a local legislative instrument that would ensure the continuity of the project's actions and serve as preparatory work for future Community environmental legislation. Finally, the results of the project were to be widely disseminated among the local population and other European regions.


RESULTS

The ECOLIGHT project successfully achieved all of its objectives and demonstrated that the elimination/minimization of pollution caused by lighting can lead to benefits from several points of view. A correction and reorganisation of an infrastructure, such as street lighting, is very costly, although in the long term it is likely to generate significant savings of energy. The ECOLIGHT project has demonstrated that it is possible to modify/adapt the public lighting system according to environmental and energy criteria and also to establish preventative measures i.e. legislation. The legislative proposal, which was developed by the project and adopted by the Valencia City Council, opens up a new approach in the management of public lighting, particularly in relation to sensitive areas, as is the case of the Albufera Nature Reserve. Although the future reorganisation and correction of the lighting system in Valencia and other sites will have to be subsidised by the local or national administration, this project was necessary as a starting point. The book about the management of lighting in natural areas which was produced by the beneficiary following a symposium on the same subject could serve as a technical reference document for other nature parks, sites of Community interest, Special Protection areas, Ramsar wetlands etc. The main environmental benefits of the project were, firstly the reduction in the lighting pollution in the Albufera Natural Park which consequently improved the environmental conditions for some nocturnal species as bats, insects and owls and secondly the reduction of CO² emissions due to the savings in the energy consumption of the public lighting system. To minimize the environmental impact of the public lighting system, sodium vapour lamps and adequate lampposts were introduced in the project area (Devesa-Albufera Park surroundings and road CV-500). They were also able to maintain a good intensity of lighting for pedestrians and vehicles. A wide range of dissemination materials were produced to raise awareness about the project. They included leaflets, posters, T-shirts, stickers, panels, DVD, interactive CD, book about the management of lighting in natural areas and an excellent website www.ecollum.org (in Spanish, English, French and Valencian). The dissemination activities carried out by the project, the results achieved and the documents produced should serve as a guide to solve similar problems in nature parks located in other European regions.The ECOLIGHT project successfully achieved all of its objectives and demonstrated that the elimination/minimization of pollution caused by lighting can lead to benefits from several points of view. A correction and reorganisation of an infrastructure, such as street lighting, is very costly, although in the long term it is likely to generate significant savings of energy. The ECOLIGHT project has demonstrated that it is possible to modify/adapt the public lighting system according to environmental and energy criteria and also to establish preventative measures i.e. legislation. The legislative proposal, which was developed by the project and adopted by the Valencia City Council, opens up a new approach in the management of public lighting, particularly in relation to sensitive areas, as is the case of the Albufera Nature Reserve. Although the future reorganisation and correction of the lighting system in Valencia and other sites will have to be subsidised by the local or national administration, this project was necessary as a starting point. The book about the management of lighting in natural areas which was produced by the beneficiary following a symposium on the same subject could serve as a technical reference document for other nature parks, sites of Community interest, Special Protection areas, Ramsar wetlands etc. The main environmental benefits of the project were, firstly the reduction in the lighting pollution in the Albufera Natural Park which consequently improved the environmental conditions for some nocturnal species as bats, insects and owls and secondly the reduction of CO² emissions due to the savings in the energy consumption of the public lighting system. To minimize the environmental impact of the public lighting system, sodium vapour lamps and adequate lampposts were introduced in the project area (Devesa-Albufera Park surroundings and road CV-500). They were also able to maintain a good intensity of lighting for pedestrians and vehicles. A wide range of dissemination materials were produced to raise awareness about the project. They included leaflets, posters, T-shirts, stickers, panels, DVD, interactive CD, book about the management of lighting in natural areas and an excellent website www.ecollum.org (in Spanish, English, French and Valencian). The dissemination activities carried out by the project, the results achieved and the documents produced should serve as a guide to solve similar problems in nature parks located in other European regions.

ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


Reference: LIFE03 ENV/E/000118
Acronym: ECOLIGHT
Start Date: 01/12/2003
End Date: 31/12/2006
Total Budget: 2,433,746 €
EU Contribution: 575,736 €
Project Location: Valencia
Project Website:

CONTACT DETAILS


Coordinating Beneficiary: Ayuntamiento de Valencia (Oficina Técnica Devesa-Albufera)
Legal Status: OTHER
Address: Plaza del Ayuntamiento n° 1, 46002, Valencia,
Contact Person:
Email:
Tel:
Fax:


LIFE Project Map

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

THEMES

  • Sensitive and protected areas management
  • Forest management

KEYWORDS

  • periurban space
  • wetland
  • environmental impact of energy
  • endemic species
  • environmental law
  • protected area

BENEFICIARIES

Name Type
Ayuntamiento de Valencia (Oficina Técnica Devesa-Albufera) Coordinator
None Participant

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