Sustainable Land Use: Herbie project deliverable starting to take shape

Sunshine on railway track

On 16 May, the Sustainable Land Use Expert meeting was held in Berlin, Germany, at the kind invitation of Deutsche Bahn. At the meeting, Michael Below (DB AG) and Thomas Schuh (ÖBB-Infra AG) were elected new co-chairmen of the expert network. Thomas Schuh is an ecologist at Obb-Infra AG and is in charge of Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility. Michael Below is an Engineer of horticulture and is head of Nature Conservation and Biodiversity at DB.

The UIC Sustainable Land Use network is composed of experts in biodiversity, vegetation management and soil remediation.

The expert group now manages the “Herbie” project which deals with all aspects of vegetation management on all the different railway properties. The project was triggered by difficulties encountered in the European Union during the process to renew market authorisation of Glyphosate, the most commonly used active agent in herbicides. Chemical weed control is the most effective and cost-efficient maintenance technique to ensure weed free infrastructure. However, there is growing pressure at both the regulatory and political levels to impose tighter restrictions on the use of Glyphosate. The UIC technical expertise is aligned with the position paper recently issued by CER on this topic.

The Herbie project kicked off in March 2017 and will end in spring 2018. A set of Guidelines for Vegetation Management in Railway application has been drafted and is now under revision by the group. The project will deliver in summer a State of the Art of Weed Control. The knowledge has been built on a comprehensive survey launched by UIC in the spring of 2017 and technical experts on this topics are encouraged to answer the questionnaire. The project will also deliver in late 2017 a socio economic and ecological assessment of vegetation control and vegetation management scenarios (herbicide use scenarios and non-herbicide use scenarios and their related cost to infrastructure maintenance).

The final report containing also an outlook on future Methods and Technologies will be issued by the end of the year. After the positive experience of the two International Workshops on Vegetation Management organised by UIC in 2016 and 2013, a final dissemination workshop will be organised in spring 2018.

Technical experts on this topic are invited to join the group and to get in contact with the Sustainable Development Unit at UIC.

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