Fortum’s impacts on biodiversity are primarily related to hydropower production the company has in Finland and Sweden. Hydropower construction and the related regulating of water change the conditions in water systems and thus may impact the diversity of the aquatic habitat and, in particular, the fish population. Emissions of energy production based on fossil fuels may decrease local biodiversity especially in Russia. In addition, our electricity distribution operations and fuel procurement may have a negative impact in areas that are rich in biodiversity. Biodiversity aspects are taken into consideration in fuel procurement.
Fortum’s Biodiversity guidelines set the principles for taking biodiversity into consideration and for managing the impacts of the company’s operations on biodiversity. In January 2014, we joined the Finnish Business & Society’s (FiBS) Corporations and Biodiversity programme. We also participated in the Master Class training within the framework of the programme.
The main impacts on biodiversity are assessed in the pre-feasibility phase of a project, and, in bigger projects, also as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. We offset and reduce the impacts of hydropower production on biodiversity by stocking fish and through voluntary environmental projects.
In electricity network operations, underground cabling protects biodiversity and reduces the impact on the landscape and birds. The share of underground cables of our electricity network in Sweden is 68%. Measures to prevent bird collisions and electric shocks include isolation
of the live parts of the network, mounting marker balls on overhead lines and installing landing perches on poles. New power lines are built in public areas and along roadsides whenever possible.
During 2014, we started gathering data on the volume of certified wood fuel in Finland, Sweden, Poland and the Baltics. This kind of fuel originates from sustainable energy sources in which special attention is paid to biodiversity.
EN13 Habitats protected or restored
River fish habitats, particularly for grayling and trout, were restored in four areas along the Vuoksi river in Finland in 2013-2014. The areas are located in the section of the river between the Tainionkoski and the Imatra power plants, and they are about 0.45 hectars in size; about 0.2 hectars of it was restored in 2014. We used Fortum’s habitat modelling in the restoration planning. In the restoration, the shoreline areas of the channels dredged during hydropower construction were shaped, gravelled and rocked to become
spawning areas for grayling and trout.
We implemented the project in partnership with the city of Imatra, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC) and the Southeast Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY centre). A restoration expert from the ELY centre participated in the restoration planning and guidance. The follow-up study done by the ELY centre in 2014 found wild trout in two of the three restoration areas. So there are good signs of a successful restoration, but the final results can be seen in a few years.
In Sweden, restoration opportunities to protect the Gullspång river’s unique salmon population were studied during the year. Restoration opportunities were also studied in the Rottan river. In the Bulsjöån river, the integration of the local endangered freshwater pearl mussel was monitored through a research project in collaboration with the local environmental authorities.
EU13 Biodiversity of offset habitats compared to the biodiversity of the affected areas
In conjunction with the construction of our new Eldforsen hydropower plant located on the Västerdalälven river in Sweden, in 2011 we released water into the old river bed as a voluntary environmental measure and built a 500-meter-long bypass, or biochannel, to support biodiversity. One purpose of the Eldbäcken biochannel was to offset the biodiversity lost in conjunction with the hydropower plant construction. However, another goal of the project is to study how different species colonise the channel habitat and how they can be used to replace the decreased biodiversity.
The biochannel is a joint project of Fortum and Karlstad University, and the shaping of the channel
and the studies are continuing. In 2014 the channel was widened and wood material was added to it to increase the diversity; habitats were also created for the endangered freshwater pearl mussel. The fish population in the channel has been studied with electro fishing and the results are promising: The studies in 2014 found burbot (Lota lota), minnows (Phoxinus phoxinus) and brown trout (Salmo trutta) in the channel. The biodiversity of the biochannel probably isn’t as high as the diversity in the pre-construction river channel, but it supports the biodiversity in the entire river and locally.
Imatra’s urban brook
In 2014, the city of Imatra built an urban brook bypassing the Imatra hydropower plant. The purpose of the brook is to act as a substitute habitat, particularly as an area for spawning and for juvenile fish, for the Vuoksi river’s rare trout population. We participated in the project by allowing the use of our land and the water bypassing our power plant for
free. In particular, trout reproduction areas have decreased in the Vuoksi river as a consequence of hydropower plant construction.
The fish reproduction area of the about kilometre-long brook is about 0.2 hectars. The biodiversity of a brook differs from the original habitat of a big river, and its value for juvenile fish production will be seen within some years. The brook channel was finished and water was released into it at the end of the year, so it will take a few years for it to evolve into a juvenile fish production area. The development is accelerated by introducing organic material and local trout to the channel.