‘We want to contribute to a greater understanding of litter in all environments, both land and water, and to identify effective solutions for its prevention’
At LIBERA we know that the first step to stop a problem we have named basuraleza – that is, litter in natural spaces- is to inform people and make them aware of this issue. This is why one of our main goals is to foster environmental education and generate scientific knowledge about it with our awareness programs, collecting the debris in natural spaces to characterize it and analyse its typology and origin and get to know the causes and consequences basuraleza has on terrestrial environments.
BEACHES AND SEAS
Each year 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean, a material that does not vanish for years. This debris travels through the sea and has a very negative impact on the marine species. Turtles, birds, fishes and other marine animals could get themselves wrapped in the plastics floating in the waters. For them, plastic bags, fishing nets, bottles and other objects become a mortal trap.
Another substantial threat is related to nourishment. Many marine species eat plastics thinking these are food. Sometimes, small pieces of this material adhere to their usual food. In both cases, plastic presence in their stomachs makes them feel full, avoiding they feed properly, causing injuries and poisoning, and even starvation. More than 800 marine species have been affected by the impact of litter on beaches and seas.
At LIBERA, we collaborate with NGOs and universities to develop innovative procedures and tools. For instance, the platform MARNOBA, which collects information about marine litter, together with Vertidos Cero and KAI, as well as the Study of floating litter, with ALNITAK ad ANSE and the Study and characterization of litter in deep bottom areas and cleaning projects with divers with Oceánidas and Ecopuertos.
RIVERS, RESERVOIRS AND MARSHLANDS
River’s contamination is one of the biggest ecological problems we face nowadays. It is estimated that 2 million tons of waste get to our rivers everyday -both organic (mainly from fecal waters) and chemical (from industrial and agricultural origin). This has disastrous consequences for aquatic wildlife and right after, for human beings. We can translate it in a biodiversity loss for the aquatic environment. Therefore, fishing activities decrease, as it isn’t safe for human consumption and sometimes not even appropriate for agriculture or livestock. Moreover, people living close to these rivers -approximately 800 million according to the UN- are in risk of illness associated with this environmental problem.
For the fluvial field, we work along with universities and NGOs to develop methodologies and useful tools that allow us to identify the source of fluvial litter. Also, we seek together how to ease the follow-up and monitorization of rivers in order to quantify floating waste. We boost both actions in collaboration with Paisaje Limpio (clean landscape) and Hombre y Territorio (Man and territory)
Countryside, forests and mountains
Cigarette ends are the main source of litter worldwide. Mostly all cigarettes sold have a cellulose acetate filter, a petroleum by-product that is photodegradable but not biodegradable. Although the sun can crumble the filter into small fibers, this material never disappears and it persists in the water and our forests’ land for a really long time.
Besides this accumulated toxicity, forests can be endangered by some other factors like fires started by a non-consumed cigarette butt or the ones that are thrown from a vehicle on the go. This problem is specially relevant in the summertime because of the high temperatures, the wind and the lack of rain. In this context, LIBERA’s project bets on prevention as one of its main pillars. For that purpose, LIBERA develop sensibilization campaigns as #SeTeHaCaído (it has fallen off) or #TenemosUnProblema (we have a problem) that help identifying the situation and aim to educate citizens on the consequences of such a mundane but rude gesture.
From Libera, we elaborate on Citizen Science procedures and tools in collaboration with NGOs and universities. This way, we have created e-litter, together with Paisaje Limpio (Clean Landscape) and Vertidos Cero (Zero Spills) to characterize all kinds of waste left on the ground as well as a common methodology for non-experience people and countries lacking litter control.
These are our scientific alliances we collaborate with across the Spanish territory.
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