Sustainable land use

Biodiversity, Vegetation management, Soil quality

The railways occupy, own and manage a large and diverse estate, and the way it manages that land can make a big difference for the safe and reliable running of serves as well as for the wildlife that lives on the land.

The Sustainable Land Use (SLU) Sector is part of the UIC Sustainability Platform and provides strategy, guidance and leadership for UIC members with respect to the natural resources:

  • Biodiversity
  • Vegetation management
  • Soil quality

The SLU Sector aims to provide a mechanism for the exchange of knowledge within the railway community and external parties in the domain of sustainable land use and promote the importance of these issues in the railway sector.

Chair: Michael BELOW, DB
Chair: Thomas SCHUH, OBB-Infra
UIC Coordinator: Pinar Yilmazer

Biodiversity working group

This working group is helping UIC members to understand how they might improve the way they manage their land and build new railways that will also help halt the global loss of biodiversity. The objectives of the working group are to:

  • Enhance the biodiversity conservation on railway property by sharing experiences and knowledge,
  • Identify and outline knowledge gaps and make recommendations for railway management as well as for practice-oriented scientific research,
  • Describe and promote measures that constitute a railway contribution to the United Nation (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),
  • Provide a general understanding of the issues to meet global challenges

Rail Event - Railways connecting wildlife as well as people and goods: A focus on biodiversity

Vegetation management working group

The aims of the working group are to provide a platform where members exchange information on how to effectively manage the vegetation on and alongside the tracks. The group works together to find innovative techniques to manage lineside vegetation for the safe operation of the railway as well as reduce any negative impacts on the environment. The overall goal is to achieve a safe and sustainable vegetation management approach.

Soil and water quality working group

The soil and water quality working group aims to determine the state of the art with regard to soil and water pollution on railways and remediation of such pollution. The contaminated soil with heavy metals, pesticides and other organic pollutants can cause a significant harm to people, protected species or pollution to surface and groundwater. The soil and water quality working group within the SLU Sector aims to exchange information in how to effectively manage pollution prevention on land and what action the sector needs to take to harmonise the soil and water management for railways.

Sustainable Land Use Projects

For further information and deliverables about Sustainable Land Use ongoing projects, please visit:

  • ECOV4R Project (Ecosystem Valuation for Railways)
  • BISON Project (Biodiversity and infrastructure synergies and opportunities for European transport networks ) - 2021-2023 – EU funded
  • rEvERsE Project (Ecological Effects of Railways on wildlifE)

For further information and deliverables about some completed projects, please visit:

  • TRISTRAM Project (TransItion STRategy on vegetAtion Management)
  • Herbie Project (Vegetation Control and Use of Herbicides) - 2017-2018

Sustainable Land Use Publications

rEvERsE project

TRISTRAM project

Herbie project

Chemical weed control (2013 –2014)
UIC commissioned research in 2003 on the reduction of herbicides in the railways (see link below) and initiated a further project in 2011 to update this information.

Contaminated soil assessment scheme (2008-2010)
UIC’s polluted soil remediation experts have completed a project on establishment of a contaminated soil assessment scheme. The objectives of the project were to provide:

  • recommendations for improvement of environmental data handling,
  • recommendations for implementation of a data system,
  • recommendations for management of risk with regard to polluted soil.

The project report, based on a survey of European UIC members on soil pollution and remediation, is available at:



Memorandum of understanding with WWF-CEE

UIC signed a memorandum of understanding with WWF Central-Eastern Europe. The main purpose of this MoU is to promote environmentally conscious rail transport in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe by enhancing international cooperation between the Parties. Under the mission statement of UIC Sustainable Land Use Sector within the Sustainability unit, the Parties will establish mutual dialogue in domains of common interest and an option for information exchange in the following fields:

  • UIC
    • Biodiversity
    • Vegetation management
    • Soil quality
    • Water Quality
    • Ecological connectivity & corridors
    • Large carnivores
    • Landscapes including forest and wetlands
MoU WWF-CEE and UIC 2020

- PDF - 1.3 Mb


Mr Davenne’s and Mr Beckmann’s speeches are available at the following links:

For further information, please see the video of the event on the UIC YouTube channel:

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