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Ensuring Safe Wildlife Crossings—Rail Baltica's 19 Green Bridges and Environmental Strategy

Ensuring Safe Wildlife Crossings—Rail Baltica's 19 Green Bridges and Environmental Strategy
photo: LTG Infra / Public domain/RB
05 / 07 / 2024

Rail Baltica will feature 19 green bridges designed to ensure safe wildlife crossings as a part of an extensive environmental strategy to minimize the ecological impact of this significant infrastructure project.

Experts agree that green bridges are among the most effective measures for facilitating animal migration across railways, offering a solution that is both environmentally friendly and practical.

In addition to the green bridges, the Rail Baltica project includes a range of other measures to protect biodiversity. For the section from Kaunas to Latvia, plans include 30 underpasses for small and medium-sized animals, and adaptations of six river bridges for animal migration. The section from Kaunas (Jiesia) to Poland will feature 23 underpasses, while the Kaunas-Vilnius section will have 40 underpasses.

The integration of green bridges and other wildlife-friendly infrastructure is a novelty in Lithuania, presenting unique challenges due to the project's scale. The high-speed railway spans a 100-meter-wide, 400-kilometer-long area dedicated to transport infrastructure. Tadas Varpučinskas, LTG Infra’s chief project manager for environmental issues, says, “To avoid habitat fragmentation and the barrier effect, it is necessary to provide conditions for animals to cross the railway safely through overpasses or underpasses.” These structures are designed with natural surfaces, noise and light barriers, and appropriate vegetation to ensure animals feel safe using them.

The selection of locations for these green bridges and underpasses is based on extensive biodiversity studies and field research identifying areas with high concentrations of animal migrations, ensuring the infrastructure supports all types of wildlife, from large mammals like moose and deer to small creatures such as dormice and amphibians. "The locations and types of animal crossings are selected considering the planned railway line route, terrain, forest, and water body distribution, surrounding land use, intersected potential animal migration corridors, and separated protected areas," comments Varpučinskas

Rail Baltica represents the largest railway infrastructure project in the history of the Baltic States, constructing an electrified European standard dual-gauge railway connecting major cities across the region. The total length of the Rail Baltica railway line in the Baltic States is 870 kilometers, with 392 kilometers in Lithuania, 265 kilometers in Latvia, and 213 kilometers in Estonia.


Source: LTG Infra, Rail Baltica