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Effects of transport > Landscape and nature


Keyword habitat fragmentation; loss of biodiversity; integrated planning; transport infrastructure; sustainable transport

Landscapes and nature can be adversely affected by transport infrastructure, which uses up large areas of land and has impacts on land-use that can extend well beyond the area directly covered by the infrastructure. For instance, while one kilometre of a four-lane motorway requires some 2.5 ha, the addition of space for noise protection, embankments, interchanges, motorway junctions and service areas brings this figure to an average of 8 ha of land directly withdrawn from other uses. In addition, one has to add the overall affected area (impact zones of noise and pollution or required compensation and substitution areas) of 50 to 80 m. along both sides of the road that will bring the overall land-use of one kilometre of motorway up to 20 ha.

Transport infrastructure, therefore, is a significant cause of habitat fragmentation and adverse impacts on wildlife, and achieving a sustainable balance between competing land uses is a key issue for all development policies. The spatial impact of policies (including transport) on the European territory is one of the key issues in the European spatial development perspective and the Sixth Environmental Action Programme. At the international level, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity considers fragmentation to be a major threat to habitats and species populations. Habitat fragmentation is also reflected in the pan-European biological and landscape diversity strategy as well as in the European Community biodiversity strategy (1998) and the EC habitats Directive.


Habitat fragmentation
Natural heritage
Assessment tools and procedures