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the Netherlands
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Harmony - Een CEDR transnationaal onderzoeksproject
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Harmony - A CEDR Trans-national Research Project

Roads and their traffic cause fragmentation of habitats and form barriers to animal movement and can inadvertently cause the spread of invasive species. This research project, entitled Harmony, aimed to develop ways for road authorities to address these issues in a balanced and cost-effective way. The project was part of the CEDR Trans-national Road Research Programme 2013 'Roads and Wildlife'. It aimed to find cost-efficient road management strategies to solve the conflict between wildlife and roads.

The project developed simple, easy to implement procedures that address three key issues currently missing from the original COST 341 handbook: guidance on a consistent approach to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA); guidance on methods of procurement and follow-up of road projects and mitigation measures; and strategies for the maintenance of roads and mitigation measures. While the recommendations are practical and easy to use, they are based on solid scientific foundations that can be defended against legal challenge and form the basis for decisions with huge financial implications.

Compliance with EU legislation

All EU countries carry out EIAs and AAs to comply with the Birds Directive and the Habitats and Species Directive. In some cases, there are national guidelines for environmental assessment of road projects. These guidelines will be reviewed in Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Hungary and Austria. A review of more than 80 road projects, spread over these countries, were used to seek commonalities in approaches between countries. A common framework using, for example, a 7-point scale for each assessment factor, was developed and can be applied to all projects. On that basis, guidance on a common approach will be developed and trialled with stakeholders and experts to amend the assessment guidance.

Procurement

Existing approaches to procurement of road constructions, mitigation measures and maintenance were reviewed, mostly in the eight reference countries, and a small number of outcomes-based approaches investigated in detail. A survey of experts was conducted to identify procurement practices that give good ecological outcomes in a cost-efficient way. Recommendations are given for best practice in a range of situations.

Maintenance

A programme of field studies on roadside maintenance is currently taking place in Hungary as part of another project. Harmony will extend the field study to do a comparison of the impact of alternative maintenance strategies on biodiversity. In a desktop study, the ecological function of roadsides (verges) will be investigated in the context of conflicting properties - e.g. road kill and safety versus ecological corridor. The maintenance of mitigation measures such as ecoducts will also be considered.

Deliverables

Deliverables of Harmony will include input to three new chapters in the style of the COST 341 Handbook, relating to the three issues presented above. The chapters will focus on practical recommendations that can be implemented on the ground. For eco-friendly maintenance, a stand-alone maintenance handbook will also be delivered.

Consortium partners 
In this project Bureau Waardenburg collaborates with: 
- Roughan & O'Donovan Innovative Solutions (RODIS), Ireland 
- MTA Centre for Ecological Research, Hungary 
- VTI - Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, Sweden

For more information see the Harmony website.

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