Sustainability and environment


Environmental recovery of the Left Bank of the Odiel Estuary

The Port of Huelva, aware of the needs of environmental conservation, has implemented projects related to the environment and social restoration of natural spaces in the port. Specifically, the Environmental Recovery of the Left Bank of the Odiel Estuary is a project for the conservation of habitats and their ecological values, as well as for the promotion of the social uses of the area.

The Port Authority is committed to restoring the environmental values of the Left Bank of the Odiel Estuary, and to this end has been making a major effort since the beginning of the 21st century. Specifically, between 2006 and 2007, an ecological restoration project was carried out on a four-kilometre stretch. This was an innovative project in Europe, as it used bio-tools to recover the ecological functions of the ecosystem. Subsequently, ecological monitoring work was carried out, which showed the success of the restoration work. A few years ago, a new project was initiated to conserve the habitat created after the restoration.

The most relevant results were as follows:

  • Increased vegetation diversity in the harbour marshes, with a mature and diverse marsh ecosystem now successfully performing its ecological functions.
  • Creation of habitats for birds, highlighting the significant increase in populations of waders and protected species at European level.
  • More than 65 protected bird species can be observed inside the Port of Huelva.
  • Recovery of autochthonous and endangered species, whose populations are successfully developing in the marshes of the Port, highlighting the recovery of the spartina maritima and the eradication of the spartina densiflora.
  • Creation of new habitats for the fish and invertebrate community, showing the richness of the environment.

These environmental actions have been complemented by the construction of a promenade along one kilometre of the Odiel Estuary next to the Riotinto Quay, as well as a 4 km pedestrian path, which connects the estuary promenade with Punta del Sebo, making it possible to provide citizens with a recreational area that is performing an important social function.

“The Port of Huelva has made a firm commitment to become a Green Port. This project is an example of how it has helped to restore a space of great ecological quality for the city”.

Pilar Miranda

Thus, both environmental and recreational benefits have been offered to the population of Huelva: a degraded area has been restored, new habitats for protected seabirds have been created, social use has been promoted through the creation of a pedestrian path for citizens and visitors to the area, and environmental education and outreach has been promoted.


Image gallery

Conservation of protected areas in the Port of Huelva

The Port of Huelva is located in an enclave of coastal and tidal systems in southern Europe, with marine and terrestrial protected areas covering more than 245. The Port of Huelva is located in an enclave of coastal and tidal systems in southern Europe, with marine and terrestrial protected areas covering more than 245,000 hectares, with different types of protection such as Special Protection Areas for Birds (SPA), Special Conservation Areas (SCA) of the Natura 2000 Network, Unesco Biosphere Reserve, Wetlands of International Importance (RAMSAR) and Natural Sites, which have a wide variety of bird species, many of which are protected, such as the spoonbill, grey heron, purple heron, osprey, crane, etc., as well as important colonies of flamingos and waders. These unique ecological values have historically coexisted and continue to be sustained alongside port activity. 


Within the port area in particular, there are more than 500 hectares of these protected areas and the rest are annexed to it.


This is why ecological conservation is not only the object of specific actions, but also forms part of the day-to-day running of the port. The promotion of these natural values through specific environmental dissemination actions, the internalisation of specific measures within the projects, services and activities developed in the Port of Huelva.


The environmental context of the Port of Huelva has great ecological wealth that should be appreciated and known by society. In this sense, different environmental education and awareness-raising actions have been carried out with different groups and collectives, with the collaboration of entities such as SEO/BirdLife and the Sustainability Classroom of the University of Huelva.


Objective: To bring the world of birds closer to children through environmental education workshops on the Paseo de la Ría.



Objective: to involve young people in the environmental conservation of our surroundings.



Objective: To bring the world of birds closer to the citizens of Huelva.


Objective: To bring the ecological values of the Port of Huelva closer to schools.


Objective: Participatory activity to raise public awareness.


Objective: Theoretical and practical training days on bird identification.


Bird Guide

This Bird Guide, produced by the Port Authority of Huelva in collaboration with SEO/BirdLife, is the result of the environmental and social recovery work on the left bank of the estuary, between the Riotinto Quay and Punta del Sebo. With this publication, the people of Huelva, and all those who visit us, can enjoy this space, recovered for the enjoyment of all, highlighting the biodiversity of this environment, a biosphere reserve. “Birds of the Huelva estuary” includes a summary of the restoration project, a descriptive introduction to the natural space and its natural values, the objectives and results of the restoration project, recommendations for users and an introduction to birdwatching. The guide includes illustrations by Juan Varela, a renowned painter of the natural world, and texts of the 60 species of the most common birds of the estuary, with illustrations reflecting their different plumages, ages and sexes. The names of the different species appear in Spanish, with scientific nomenclature in Latin and English. The texts are very informative and highlight the most important characteristics of each species for correct identification.

Birds film

This leaflet has been published in diptych format. One side includes texts in Spanish and English, with information on the actions included in the restoration project and their environmental and social importance.


The triptych published contains relevant data on the environmental sustainability of the Port of Huelva.



Economy, society and environment are and will continue to be closely linked in this area. In this sense, the Port Authority of Huelva adopts a fundamental role as a manager of the space in favour of sustainability, creating synergies between economic activity, environmental protection and social welfare in the Port of Huelva, developing actions to improve environmental quality that go beyond mere compliance with environmental regulations, always within the framework of the Ports Act and with the legal, economic and administrative tools that this Act allows.

In recent years, more than 90 million euros have been allocated to investments and expenditure on sustainability and the environment, especially in areas related to:


  • Sustainable management of dredged materials:

The sustainable management of dredged materials constitutes a line of action in which the Port of Huelva has led and will continue to lead projects that guarantee the use of the best technical options for the correct environmental management of dredged materials in accordance with the applicable regulations.


  • Decarbonisation and energy transition in the Port of Huelva: 

Achieving the objectives of European and national policies for the reduction of Greenhouse Gases is a great commitment that involves various economic agents in the common objective of reducing the consumption of resources and promoting the use of alternative energies and fuels. There are different lines of projects in this sense oriented towards the production of energy from renewables, as well as the supply of alternative fuels and sustainable mobility.


  • Creation of carbon sinks:

Having carbon sinks that capture atmospheric carbon is an essential and particularly important task in the Port of Huelva because they have been developed in previously degraded areas such as the one on the left bank of the Odiel estuary, thus achieving a double objective: creating a carbon sink and converting an environmental liability into a mature ecosystem that has developed ecological functions in degraded marshes. This has provided more than 130,000 m2 of spartina maritima meadows in areas of marshland previously occupied by bare mud, which has favoured the capture of more than 300 tonnes of carbon annually, increased biodiversity and stabilised slopes.


  • Circular economy projects:

The Port of Huelva is home to a wide variety of industrial activities, among which there are already important synergies for the use of materials and waste. In this sense, projects such as the Cold Logistics Hub position the Port of Huelva as a leader in the use of ecological cold, which is the cold left over from the regasification process for use in facilities specialising in the logistics of temperature-controlled goods. It is located in the “Muelle Sur” Multimodal Platform, and its purpose is to create a centre of reference and excellence in temperature-controlled goods logistics, based on the use of low-cost ecological refrigeration energy from the Liquefied Natural Gas regasification process. This positions the Port of Huelva’s Cold Logistics Hub as a pioneering facility in Europe.


  • Sustainable mobility and alternative fuels:

The Port of Huelva is immersed in a great commitment that involves various economic agents in the common objective of reducing the consumption of resources, promoting the use of renewable energies, the supply of alternative fuels, reducing its carbon footprint and promoting intermodality for the use of more environmentally efficient means of transport with its hinterland. 

In this regard, projects such as the creation of an integral green logistics corridor between the two intermodal platforms it manages (co-financed by the CEF Programme, Connecting Europe Facility) stand out: the Muelle Sur Intermodal Platform and the Majarabique Intermodal Railway Platform in the province of Seville (a strategic point within the Mediterranean Corridor of the TEN-T Network), using LNG as fuel for railway traction. This action will make the Seville – Huelva corridor more competitive, both in terms of costs and environmental savings, increasing the competitiveness of the corridor and, as a consequence, increasing the modal transfer from road to rail. ENAGÁS, RENFE and ADIF are collaborating in this action.

In addition, the Port of Huelva is participating in the ECO-GATE project (“European Corridors for Natural Gas Transport Efficiency”), which aims to study the improvement of the efficiency of the conventional and natural gas vehicle market, and its connection with the European corridors, through the development of new technologies and innovative solutions for logistic supply services, clean fuels, refuelling infrastructure, vehicle and component manufacturers, and operational processes.


The LNGHVE2 Logistics Solutions project, which aims to provide a comprehensive solution to the new requirements of the maritime and rail sectors, was also launched at the end of 2018. Its activities include: bunkering and small scale services; construction of an LNG supply barge and the introduction of LNG as a fuel in a green maritime-rail corridor between the Port of Huelva and the Majarabique dry port in Seville, through the retrofitting of a diesel locomotive to LNG and the construction of a gas station at the Majarabique rail terminal.


Finally, the Port Authority is studying the different options for the supply of electricity to ships, mainly the regular Ro-Pax and container traffic lines, among others. It has also considered different scenarios for the generation of electricity from renewable sources, where public and private action is essential.

  • Air quality:

The Huelva Port Authority has an Environmental Scorecard with specific developments in air quality control, as well as predictive models essential for decision-making. In addition, detailed field studies have been carried out for the diagnosis and prevention of emissions in the port environment, as well as important investments in facilities and infrastructures for the mitigation of particle emissions such as irrigation systems, vegetation barriers, etc.

  • Water quality:

Water quality is monitored by numerous activities, as well as the continuous improvement of processes, sanitation networks and treatment of discharges. In this way, actions aimed at the control of discharges such as large infrastructures for the modernisation of sanitation and treatment in industrial estates, roads and docks, as well as actions aimed at monitoring water quality, highlighting the application of the ROM 5. 1 “Quality of Coastal Waters in Port Areas”, which forms part of the thematic series ‘Recommendations for Maritime and Port Works in the Coastal Environment’ which, developed by Puertos del Estado in collaboration with a group of experts from the University of Cantabria, addresses the problem of the quality of port waters in relation to the application of the so-called Water Framework Directive.

ROM 5.1 thus establishes a methodology for the integrated management of port water bodies, proposing tools for the delimitation of uses and classification of the water bodies in the Service Area, the assessment and management of environmental risks, the environmental monitoring of water and sediment quality, as well as the management of polluting episodes.

This methodology for port water quality management was applied on a pilot basis in the Port of Huelva together with the Ports of Gijón and Santander.


  • Good environmental practices in the Port Community:


The promotion of good environmental practices in the Port Community through different technical tools, such as the Good Housekeeping Practices Guide of the Port of Huelva, and legal tools, such as the Good Housekeeping Practices Agreements, are channels through which the Port Authority of Huelva leads the role of promoter and catalyst of good environmental practices among companies and different sectors of activity.


Thus, on the one hand, voluntary adhesion to Good Housekeeping Agreements has led to the awarding of bonuses of more than 3 million euros in recent years. Through these Good Housekeeping Agreements, bonuses are granted to companies that demonstrate compliance with specific environmental criteria and undertake to invest in environmental improvement actions above and beyond what is legally required, since 2013, the year in which these agreements came into force.


On the other hand, progress towards sustainable port activity in the Port of Huelva is becoming clear, not only because the companies that make up the Port Community are adopting the necessary environmental prevention measures to deal with what is imposed by the regulations, but also because they are promoting and internalising that, beyond mere compliance with legal requirements, investment in means aimed at preventing pollution events has a positive impact not only on environmental efficiency, but also on the economic and social efficiency of the activity carried out and, therefore, on the company’s business image. The main objective of the Guide to Good Environmental Practices is to highlight the value of such public and private investments in the Port of Huelva and to disseminate them as environmental benchmarks for other port environments. To this end, the evaluation and knowledge of the activities and processes that take place in the Port Community have been the basis for determining and prioritising the good environmental practices employed.

Download Good Practice Guide

  • Environmental processing and monitoring of projects:

It is vitally important for the proper development of infrastructure projects in the Port of Huelva to conceive the environment in which it operates from the outset with an ecosystemic approach that guarantees the compatibility of the action with the conservation of environmental values.

  • Environmental surveillance in the Port Public Domain:

Environmental monitoring of both public and private facilities, operations, execution of services, construction works, etc., is a vitally important task not only to detect possible incidents but also to raise awareness of the use of environmental means and practices that minimise undesired environmental risks and impacts.

  • Environmental management systems:

The Port Authority of Huelva has an Environmental Management System integrated with Quality, as well as the Ports Environmental Review System of EcoPorts. These systems are the basis for the work carried out to guarantee compliance with legal requirements, the achievement of objectives and the future projection of the Port.



The Port of Huelva is part of the EcoPorts system. EcoPorts is the main environmental initiative of the European port sector. It was started by several proactive ports in 1997 and has been fully integrated into the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) since 2011. The general principle of EcoPorts is to raise awareness of environmental protection through cooperation and knowledge exchange between ports and to improve environmental management.

PIANC, the Global Partnership for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure:


PIANC is a global organisation with international standing that provides guidelines and recommendations for sustainable development of maritime and inland waterway transport infrastructure, both for ports and inland waterways. Founded in 1885, PIANC is one of the oldest technical associations that has changed significantly over the years, adapting to the respective contemporary requirements of maritime and inland waterway transport infrastructure issues.

ATPYC, Technical Association of Ports and Coasts:


ATPYC is a Spanish technical and scientific association aimed at promoting the relationship between its members and encouraging the exchange of information and experience in all areas of the maritime sector.

    Technical events:


    • 1st Conference on Sustainability and Port Management.


    • The World Network of Port Cities (IACP) in its guide of good practices “Making the City with the Port”, has included the environmental restoration project as an example at international level for the integration of Port-City through the ecological recovery of degraded spaces.
    • ESPO (European Sea Ports Organisation) Awards 2014: the environmental restoration project is a finalist in the sixth edition of the ESPO Awards.
    • Andalusia Prize for Urban Planning, Junta de Andalucía. 2017: the Paseo de la Ría was selected as the winning project.
    • Albert Serratosa City and Territory Award. Fundación Caminos, Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos. The Paseo de la Ría was selected as the winning project.
    • WPSP (World Port Sustainability Program) 2020 Awards: the environmental restoration project is a finalist in the “Community Outreach and Port-City dialogue” category.


      Sustainability report:

      Integrated Management System Policy:

      The Environmental and Quality Policy of the Port Authority of Huelva expresses the principles of its environmental and quality management, established in accordance with criteria of efficiency and sustainability, in order to contribute to the protection of optimum levels of environmental quality, as well as to the continuous improvement of performance.



      Integrated Quality and Environmental Management System UNE-EN ISO 9001:2015 and UNE-EN ISO 14001:2015.

      Port Environmental Review System (PERS). EcoPorts

      The Port Authority of Huelva is part of the EcoPorts System of the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO). Furthermore, the implementation of PERS, an environmental management standard specific to the port sector, developed under the EcoPorts framework, guarantees our commitment to the development of a sustainable and integrated activity in the environment.