Talk Club of Linear Infrastructures and Biodiversity CILB: an original partnership

The similarity of the biodiversity issues at stake for linear infrastructure operators, and the parallels between the solutions put forward to deal with these issues, brought to light the advantages of joint work by the companies. Each of these concerns has its own history, but they have joined forces in the field of biodiversity. The CILB was institutionalised through the signature of a charter in 2011, and it currently federates the following entities: ASFA, EIFFAGE, ERDF, GRTgaz, LISEA, RTE, SNCF Réseau, TIGF and VNF.

These operators’ desire to express their views collectively in the field of biodiversity stems from the fact that their infrastructures interact with nature. Although they are often singled out by environmental associations, they have all been taking action for a long time to minimise the impacts of their facilities: “eco-friendly” methods to maintain the right-of-ways, crossings for the various species concerned, systems to protect birds on power lines, fish passes, planting trees or sowing grassland, etc.

The charter signed by the club members encourages them to move further along this path. Thus the members are committed to sharing their knowledge, their best practices and their experience of biodiversity, regarding project design and execution, together with maintenance of their facilities. They have set up networks of biodiversity experts in their companies to structure and capitalise the experience acquired, in order to ensure joint progress in protection of biodiversity. They organise and coordinate their representations and contribute to the legislative and regulatory texts. They participate in the various working groups on the green and blue belts (TVB), impact studies, and the “Avoid, reduce, and offset” doctrine. They are present in the “biodiversity” theme groups of the professional associations, at the French Foundation for Research on Biodiversity (FRB), and on the national and regional TVB committees to obtain a global perspective and participate in the decisions covering set-up adjustment. They collaborate with the French Museum of natural history (MNHN) to add their inventories to the national inventory of natural heritage (INPN) and help to enhance knowledge.

These actions show what the infrastructures can bring to the TVB, with their  right-of-ways and green dependencies. The task is a major one, but key issues are involved. The CILB held a seminar late in 2014, sponsored by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on the theme “Infrastructure corridors, ecological  corridors?”. It has also implemented a research programme entitled “Land Transport Infrastructures, Ecosystems and Landscapes” in collaboration with the FRB and the ministry in charge of the environment (ITTECOP): 15 projects are backed, together with a systematic review.

Whereas a few years ago we were somewhat on the defensive regarding these questions of biodiversity, we have radically changed our approach, and our current attitude is much more proactive, to reconcile our “industrial” missions with preservation of biodiversity. The fact of being able to discuss concepts and practices within the club, being jointly committed to the process and providing coordinated representation enhances general awareness among the senior management and the staff alike, and boosts their will to act.

Infrastructures, biodiversity, professionnal