Experts propose solutions for sustainable European transport by mainstreaming biodiversity

On the occasion of the IENE 2022 international held in Cluj Napoca (Romania), the H2020 BISON project will present its first results during an online press conference on Monday 19 September at 10:30 EEST/ 9:30 CEST. Click to join the zoom press conference. Journalists should register by replying by return e-mail or by e-mail to julie.debouville@fondationbiodiversite.fr.

Key points

  • If business as usual prevails, twice as many roads and railways are expected in the world year 2050 as in 2010.
  • 27 % of the land surface in the EU- (27+UK) is highly fragmented
  • Transport sustainability policies focus on CO2 reduction, but largely miss another key issue: tackling biodiversity loss.
  • The central element of a sustainable transport policy must be the reduction of transport demand.
  • Solutions that jointly address climate change and biodiversity loss are essential to achieve a net positive impact on biodiversity and resilient, safe, and sustainable transport infrastructure systems.

While Europe currently has an estimated 6 million kilometers of road and rail network, the coming years may likely see a substantial expansion of new infrastructure, particularly in Eastern Europe. The eastern part of the continent seeks to expand and modernize its transport infrastructure. However, this region is the home of many rare, endangered species, and contains productive landscapes and functional ecosystems due to a long history of small-scale and extensive agriculture. Here, infrastructure and the entire transport system must be designed very carefully to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem services. In the western part, the focus is rather on repairing and restoring biodiversity values. Europe needs to implement innovative and sustainable solutions to stop the decline of native species and the fragmentation of ecosystems for which transport infrastructure is partly responsible. Existing infrastructure must also be adapted to the new climatic conditions that cause floods, droughts, and forest fires by applying nature-based solutions. The spread of invasive species, which between 1960 and 2020 cost 116.61 billion euros in mitigation is also a priority

The responsibilities of the transport sector (traffic and infrastructure) on biodiversity and the need for mitigation are as follows :

  • barrier effects and mortality in wildlife. To avoid these impacts, it is necessary to preserve natural processes and species movements in the landscape by maintaining or restoring ecological corridors, and enhancing green and blue infrastructure that is intersected transport infrastructure.
  • pollution and disturbance in the surrounding habitats. To protect the ecological quality and integrity of the habitats, there is an urgent need to reduce the spread of noise, light, chemicals, and waste, as well as invasive species.
  • New road openings which are very often the first step to complete and profound change. When transport infrastructure is built in natural pristine areas people inevitably follow. Once the first cut is made, many impacts spread such as deforestation,  forest fires, or habitat fragmentation.

Conversely,

  •  Transport infrastructure can provide new habitats hosting wildlife in road verges, stormwater basins, or airport green spaces, that can complement and enrich the surrounding landscape, and promote biodiversity and ecological functions.

A sustainable transport policy must be the reduction of transport demand.

September 14, 2022

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European Union flagThis project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101006661.

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