Friday 16 June 2023

The European Commission financed BISON project holds its final event in Strasbourg

UIC celebrated the BISON project’s final meeting with a UIC event on ecosystem services in railways, bringing together experts on biodiversity and transport infrastructure.

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From 5-9 June 2023, the Biodiversity and Infrastructure Synergies and Opportunities for European Transport Networks (BISON) held its final event, with the theme of “Transport infrastructure and biodiversity at a nexus of challenges: research and innovation as drivers for transformative change”. UIC, as a representative of the global railway sector within the consortium, presented the advances made by the rail industry and its role in enhancing ecological connectivity and biodiversity.

The railway as a steward of biodiversity and sustainable land use management

UIC and its members place a strong emphasis on all of the valuable work that the rail sector is undertaking to improve biodiversity and facilitate harmony between railways and wildlife. On 7 June, Francois Davenne, UIC Director General, delivered a keynote speech on the role of railways in reconnecting wildlife as well as connecting people and goods. He touched on topics such as efficiency in transport, preserving nature, engendering progress, and meeting growing mobility demands without further harming the environment, highlighting the sustainable competitive advantage of railways. UIC’s commitment to supporting the expansion of sustainable railway networks that contribute to biodiversity conservation across the globe was also discussed.

International cooperation can accelerate biodiversity preservation

In the panel discussion “International panorama: an overview of the nexus of challenges in infrastructure and biodiversity”, Pinar Yilmazer, Sustainability Programme Senior Advisor, explained UIC’s biodiversity strategy, which is strongly backed by the Sustainable Land Use sector activities on the future of vegetation management, biodiversity protection across railway landscapes, and the inclusion of knowledge regarding ecosystem services for railway infrastructure projects and management. Yilmazer then highlighted the potential that BISON creates in facilitating international cooperation among the 39 European members and associate countries.

The role of technology and innovation

Lucie Anderton, UIC Head of the Sustainable Development Unit, gave a presentation entitled “Getting on track for sustainable habitat management” discussing improved valuing and management of green lineside assets and outlining several emerging trends in railway sustainability. Taking biodiversity into account in the very design of infrastructure is essential, and new technologies that can help facilitate biodiversity should be incorporated into the initial infrastructure development stages. Digitalisation on railways (i.e., GIS-based or satellite monitoring) would ensure effective monitoring and mapping of the land managed by the railways and thereby protect biodiversity.

How do you manage railway assets for biodiversity? Find out in the UIC Sustainable Land Use Sector’s latest report

During the event, the latest Ecological Effects of Railways on Wildlife (REVERSE) deliverable was announced. The “UIC Guidelines for Managing Railway Assets for Biodiversity” have been written in consultation with railway infrastructure managers and environmental experts. The report lists best practices across the railway sector and provides technical recommendations and key design features for incorporating and enhancing biodiversity along existing and when upgrading railway lines.

Embracing ecosystem services: transforming railway infrastructure

On 8 June, as part of the UIC ECOV4R Project, the day was spent focusing on ecosystem services having an integral role in sustainable land use planning for railway infrastructure. The aim was for different stakeholders to exchange knowledge on the topic of ecosystem services and how to integrate an ecosystem-based approach into new railway infrastructure projects.

In the morning, the UIC Sustainable Land Use Sector members met for a hybrid masterclass on ecosystem service valuation and monetisation methodologies, learning from a case study based on the assessment of the Austrian Federal Forest’s ecosystem services.

In the afternoon, railway experts had the opportunity to strengthen their knowledge on the different implications of and stakeholders involved in ecosystem service assessments, by learning from several experts with different backgrounds and perspectives.

All the information and know-how from this important session will be shared and worked on with the UIC members in order to form a plan for the railway sector’s integration of ecosystem-based approaches when planning new lines. The UIC Sustainable Land Use Sector will continue to implement its biodiversity and habitat management strategy, by providing deliverables for the ECOV4R project and bringing together experts to promote best practices across the transport sector, in order to maintain the railway’s status as the most sustainable mode of transport.

For further information, please contact Pinar Yilmazer (BISON UIC Project Coordinator) at

or Lorenzo Franzoni (UIC Sustainability Advisor, BISON Project) at

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