Wednesday 8 June 2022

Strategy and Actions for Biodiversity on Railways by the UIC Sustainable Land Use Sector

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European railways aspire to promote environmentally sound practices through the UIC Sustainable Land Use Sector. UIC, together with its members, seeks solutions and best practices for managing rail lineside in a way that can help halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity.

As the part of the UIC Sustainability Platform Plenary Meeting held in Berlin on 2 June, 20 experts from 9 EU nations and 11 UIC members convened to explore the latest work by European railways on vegetation management, biodiversity and the current state of soil and water quality.

UIC has worked with its members and the UK Centre of Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), as part of the REVERSE project, to formulate a collective vision for protecting and enhancing biodiversity across the European rail network. Now, UIC is delighted to announce the release of the first report of the REVEERSE project, “European Railways: Strategy and Actions for Biodiversity”.

The report sets out a series of strategies and action guides to ensure management for biodiversity is embedded at every level of the railway business, alongside safety, performance and sustainability. The report uses case study examples from the project partners to demonstrate best practice management for biodiversity. The case studies include creating and restoring lineside habitats, linking existing habitats together, and approaches to avoid and minimise the negative impacts of rail infrastructure on wildlife. Key to achieving our vision will be the setting of ambitious targets for conserving and enhancing biodiversity, and monitoring and reporting progress towards achieving these. Indeed, the report includes the community’s plan to improve lineside management thinking in railways, and shares with stakeholders the 13 strategies and action guides determined by the European railway community.

UIC General Director, François Davenne, in the Foreword of the report, shared his thoughts for the global railway community: “The rail network acts as a green corridor for nature as well as for goods and people, lining other green spaces and providing habitat for a range of plants and animals. It also provides benefits, such as water regulation due to the permeability of rail beds. As set out in our 2030 vision: Design a better future, our railways must continue to transform and develop in an ever more sustainable way so that rail remains the clear choice as the backbone of a sustainable mobility system.” This shows his incredible support for the Sustainability Unit, its vision and the REVERSE project.

Professor Richard Pywell from UKCEH said: “Adoption of these strategic goals and actions by rail infrastructure managers will enable the railways to play a positive role in protecting and enhancing biodiversity across Europe.”

At the invitation of UIC, WWF-Central and Eastern Europe contributed to the report with its expertise on maintaining ecological connectivity in the Carpathians when new infrastructure is being planned, and by bringing in partners from this region.

The report underlines the value of involving stakeholders and other sectors for an integrated planning approach in order to avoid a cumulative impact on nature. Together, UIC and WWF-CEE aim to find the best solutions.

UIC would like to express its gratitude to all members of the UIC SLU Sector for all their suggestions and discussions, and for their endorsement of the report. In addition, we thank Richard Pywell of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), Hildegard Meyer (WWF-CEE) and their teams for their support and important collaboration with UIC during the facilitation of the project. On 8 June, UIC will also present more detailed information on this exciting report at the World Congress on Railway Research in Birmingham, UK.

For more information, please consult the project website: and contact Pinar Yilmazer at yilmazer@uic.orggro.ciu:rezamliy’)]

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