4. Integration of infrastructure into the landscape

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Last update: June 2023 - How to cite


Sustainable infrastructure development aims to ensure the viable coexistence of biodiversity, ecosystem processes, and human activities. This aim requires the development and maintenance of transport infrastructure in a dynamic and adaptive way so that sustainability is achieved at both project and landscape scale. In practice, integrating infrastructure into the landscape means that the whole infrastructure life cycle considers landscape dynamics, which are driven by natural and human processes.

Integration of transport infrastructure into changing, living landscapes must be addressed by outlining landscape management approaches that play a major role in landscape dynamics and biodiversity conservation. In addition, methods and techniques commonly used in landscape ecology may be applied for development of holistic cross-sectoral analysis of territories. Ultimately, this is expected to lead to a correct implementation of integrated landscape management.

Main messages

  • EU regulations require transport infrastructure projects to contribute to overall sustainability. This can only be achieved by incorporating landscape ecology considerations into all steps of the infrastructure life cycle (see Chapter 2 – Policy, strategy and planning) and implementing all steps of the mitigation hierarchy (see Chapter 3 – The mitigation hierarchy).
  • In addition to complying with local and national policies and regulations, infrastructure development strategies should be aligned with regional and international policies and agreements such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the Convention on Biological Diversity´s Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the European Landscape Convention.
  • Integrated landscape management approaches must be implemented at all levels to appropriately embed transport infrastructure in the territories they cross ensuring they make positive contributions to nature conservation and the benefits this nature provides to local people.

Actions to take

  • Make biodiversity conservation the basis of actions aimed at integrating transport infrastructure into a landscape. Any type of action, including those which fall within the scope of the socio-economic sector, should be evaluated for direct, indirect, and cumulative effects on biodiversity.
  • Apply methods and tools from the landscape ecology field to identify and manage impacts through the mitigation hierarchy and to support biodiversity management.
  • Incorporate into transport infrastructure design and planning new compulsory, and voluntary, approaches to manage, report and disclose key impacts and reliance on nature.
  • Consider Green Infrastructure (GI), especially ecological networks and Nature-based Solutions (NbS) as key values to be integrated into the complete life cycle of transport infrastructure.
  • Apply the ecosystem services approach to understand and manage ecosystem functions across the landscape to benefit people and biodiversity.
  • Use participatory approaches to meaningfully engage communities, consider the historical, present, and future socio-economic dynamics at the landscape scale, and incorporate these inputs into the infrastructure development life cycle.
  • Apply the wide range of technical solutions available to integrate transport infrastructure into the landscape while conserving biodiversity and ecosystem services. This includes incorporating landscape management considerations into alignments, earthworks, junctions and roundabouts, tunnels, drainage, fencing and barriers, vegetation adjustments, and lighting and noise management (see Chapter 5 – Solutions to mitigate impacts and benefit nature).
  • Integrating transport infrastructure in living landscapes requires the use of procedures and tools which permit ecology, landscape and infrastructure experts to cooperate.
  • Digitalisation and modelling tools need to be developed enabling the simulation of scenarios for integration of infrastructure and its effects into the landscape.

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