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UIC Guidelines on Managing Railway Assets for Biodiversity

Ed. no.1| May 2023
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The word “biodiversity” stems from a contraction of “biological diversity” which refers to the multiplicity of life on Earth at all its levels, from gene variation within a population, to the number of plant, animal and fungi species and other living organisms within a habitat, and the range of ecosystems in a region. International organisations and agreements, including the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the European Union Biodiversity Strategy, emphasise the importance of biodiversity for maintaining healthy, balanced ecosystems which in turn provide our society with “ecosystem services”. These ecosystem services improve our daily lives, including access to green spaces, nutrient cycling and soil fertility, crop pollination, and clean air and water. Moreover, they directly improve our ability to reduce and mitigate climate change, as plants and soils capture and store carbon dioxide and reduce the likelihood and impact of flooding and landslides. Considering ecosystem services when managing railway assets on existing lines and considering environmental assets in conjunction with other asset management plans is of growing importance for UIC and its members. Investors and railway infrastructure managers must consider their environmental footprint, including biodiversity, in their construction and maintenance projects. This document compiles information from the REVERSE project members on the steps that should be taken and how they should be implemented for the best practice management of railway assets on existing and upgraded lines. The purpose of the guidelines is to enable railway infrastructure managers to incorporate biodiversity conservation into all levels of their business, and to help them make informed decisions on how to manage railway assets in order to have the least negative impact on biodiversity.

As outlined in the UIC’s report on European Railways: Strategy and Actions for Biodiversity [1], UIC, together with its members, promotes the integration of a mitigation hierarchy into all areas of railway asset management, and the open and high quality, nature-related monitoring and reporting of these assets (e.g., annual reports of the infrastructure companies for their financial years - e.g. ÖBB [2], and DB [3]). The objective to protect and restore biodiversity and ecosystems is fundamental to future environmentally sustainable investment in European railway infrastructure through the EU Taxonomy [4] and similar financial regulations in other countries. As well as UIC’s Strategy and Actions for Biodiversity [1], we recommend that users of this guide consult the Swedish Ecological and Cultural Heritage Standards for Road and Rail document [5], the Wildlife and Traffic in the Carpathians report [6], Wildlife and Traffic: A European Handbook for Identifying Conflicts and Designing Solutions [7] [8] for further general guidance on the issues around biodiversity and the rail network.

Author UIC
ISBN 978-2-7461-3283-2
Pages 64

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Ed. no.1
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Environnement Environment Sustainable development Développement durable Vegetation Management Gestion de la végétation