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The University and the Pamplona City Council implement the service-learning project 'Living Rivers', which combines environmental Education and actions to improve water quality.

The initiative is part of the project RUNA 2025, financed with European funds.

27 | 03 | 2024

The University of Navarra and the Pamplona City Council will collaborate, through the Service-Learning methodology (ApS), in the development of project RUNA 2025, which has as goal the renaturalization and protection of biodiversity in river environments. This project is supported by the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic challenge (MITECO), in the call for grants for the promotion of actions aimed at the renaturalization and resilience of Spanish cities corresponding to the year 2021 in the framework of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan (PRTR), funded by the European Union - NextGenerationEU.

Living Rivers' is the name of the service-learning project , which will involve the participation of more than thirty university students from the Degrees of Environmental Sciences, Biology and Chemistry, and more than a hundred secondary school students. Specifically, the University and the Pamplona City Council will collaborate in two of the eleven actions planned in the project RUNA 2025: the groundwater control plan, which will be analyzed on the right bank of the Magdalena meander (action B2) and in the development of a protocol to improve the water quality of the Arga, Elorz and Sadar rivers as they pass through Pamplona (action B16).

The necessary work will be carried out with the direct participation of student body university, in addition to programs of study, data analysis, sessions of Education environmental, awareness, talks or guided tours. Pamplona City Council and the University of Navarra will also collaborate in the organization of a congress for student body of Compulsory Secondary Education on urban biodiversity and in the update of a publication on the aquatic fauna of the rivers of the city.

The partnership agreement signed by the Mayor of Pamplona, Joseba Asiron Saez, and the president of the University of Navarra, María Iraburu Elizalde, is valid for two years and its completion, in December 2025, coincides with the conclusion of project RUNA 2025. The agreement does not imply any economic obligations of either of the two signatory parties towards the other.

The project RUNA 2025 has obtained 2.7 million euros in the call for grants from the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic challenge (MITECO), at framework of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, financed by the European Union - NextGenerationEU. It aims to renaturalize and protect biodiversity in river environments.

"Living Rivers."

The project of ApS will be developed under the degree scroll "Living Rivers: an integral approach for the conservation and environmental Education in the rivers Arga, Elorz and Sadar". It represents a pioneering initiative of partnership between the City Council and the University of Navarra, as a continuation of the agreement framework signed in September 2022 by the consistory with the three universities of the city, which combines the environmental Education with direct action for the conservation and improvement of water quality. Through the Service-Learning methodology (APS) the participating student body puts on internship the theoretical knowledge acquired in the School of Sciences through actions of environmental awareness and conservation for the improvement of the three rivers of Pamplona.

"Living Rivers" transcends the traditional educational scope, becoming an experiential and participatory learning platform. It not only impacts the knowledge and environmental awareness of student body, but also provides them with practical tools and direct experience in the management and conservation of natural resources. By fostering a more intimate and respectful relationship with the environment, it prepares the younger generation to be proactive stewards of their environment and leaders in the fight against contemporary ecological challenges.

congress for ESO students and update of a book on aquatic fauna.

The signed partnership agreement includes a series of specific activities to be carried out in the coming months. The City Council and the University of Navarra will collaborate in the organization of the second edition of the congress studIAS focused on urban biodiversity and aimed at secondary school students. The first edition was held in 2022 with invasive alien species as the central topic and with the participation of 27 schools and institutes, 120 participants and 35 teachers.

In addition, to compile and present the data obtained, "Fauna acuática de los Ríos de Pamplona: diez años después" will be edited, a update of the work that the University of Navarra already carried out in 2014 and published by the City Council of Pamplona in its collection on biodiversity. For the preparation of that book, the University of Navarra sampled fish and macroinvertebrates from the Arga, Elorz and Sadar rivers as they pass through Pamplona. From the samplings that will be carried out in the rivers during the development of the project "Ríos vivientes, it will be possible to compare the evolution of the fluvial courses in this last decade. The aquatic fauna censuses will be carried out within the framework of the training of the students of the School of Sciences of the University of Navarra.

Participatory activities

The agreement includes other activities in which the student body of the University of Navarra participates, under the supervision of academic staff manager of project. Talks and interactive workshops will be organized in schools and institutes, focusing on the water quality of Pamplona's rivers and their ecological impact, and explorations of pollution factors, both anthropogenic and natural, and their effect on the region's rivers will be carried out, all with visual and demonstrative materials to facilitate learning.

The section guided tours and field analysis include educational visits to rivers to closely examine water quality challenges, a study of macroinvertebrates and other bioindicators of their ecological quality, the measurement of physicochemical parameters using multiparametric probes, the application of environmental DNA techniques for the detection of invasive or endangered species, the sampling of freshwater biodiversity and study of fish populations by electrofishing, or the analysis of emerging contaminants, including pharmaceuticals and pesticides.

Also mentioned are citizen science projects to actively involve student body in monitoring water quality, collecting and analyzing samples on a regular basis; or with the creation of an online platform so that they can upload their findings, encouraging the partnership and exchange of information on river pollution. It is committed to the development of awareness and sensitization campaigns in the media and social networks to highlight pollution problems and promote sustainable practices or the organization of drawing contests, essay of essays and creation of multimedia projects focused on water conservation.

Installation of automatic monitoring equipment

The University of Navarra will designate a team composed of 2 people from the staff of academic staff of the School of Sciences for the coordination of project of APS, both internally and with the City Council of Pamplona. This team may be joined by another academic staff from the same or another School of the University that participates directly or through its student body in project RUNA 2025.

In order to carry out the works referred to the two actions of the project RUNA 2025 that are intended to be undertaken with this agreement, the installation of automatic monitoring equipment is required, in addition to the pertinent permits. The agreement includes the installation of elements such as mechanical probes, piezometric tubes to extract water samples from the phreatic level, multiparametric probes for the automatic measurement of physical-chemical parameters of the waters of the Arga, Elorz and Sadar rivers or the installation of wireless network for the transmission of data, among others.

The Pamplona City Council, for its part, will establish a team also composed of two people and will provide the necessary technical means for the development of project and, specifically, for the control of physicochemical and biotic parameters that will allow the identification of pollution and dumping black spots, to expand the current control network and the issue of sampling, based on the technical contributions of the coordinator team of project at the University.

The City Council of Pamplona will facilitate the use of the appropriate municipal facilities for the development of the project ApS, if necessary, and will publicize the specific projects that are developed under this agreement, through the municipal website.