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Symposium on "Biodiversity along line routes"

20 years of sustainable route management at APG

APG’s symposium entitled “Biodiversity along Line Routes – 20 Years of Sustainable Route Management at APG” instigated by Sven Aberle was held in Schlierbach, Upper Austria, on 4 and 5 July 2018. As had been the case two years previously at the symposium on bird protection along overhead lines, the enthralling and informative presentations on a wide range of ecological measures and species conservation projects along power lines provided inspiration for the conference participants. 

Excursions were also organised to selected areas along the route through the Rettenbachtal Valley and to the Kronstorf substation, which were very well received. 

Success story

The research project entitled “Environmental and cost-effective line maintenance” launched back in 1997 served as the basis for the progressive design of overhead power lines taking environmental aspects into account. So, for more than 20 years now, APG has been paying particular attention to the potential that environmentally sustainable route management can have for nature conservation and its goals – without neglecting operational safety. 

In addition to the route clearance needed for operational purposes, numerous environmental measures have been implemented in recent years to protect the vegetation in the meadows and forest routes. These were presented by the long-standing project partners and experts Ferdinand Lenglachner and Ernst Partl, who also explained their benefits for operations and the environment. In addition, a great many species conservation projects have been developed and implemented over the past two decades in cooperation with NGOs such as BirdLife Austria, the Vienna University of Veterinary Medicine and the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology. Zoologists Rainer Raab and Richard Zink reported on the latest research findings in the Saker Falcon conservation project and on the telemetry data collected on Red Kites to record their flight and migration behaviour by area. Furthermore, Andreas Kleewein from the Natural Science Association of Carinthia explained the importance and natural potential of bases of electricity pylons as stepping stone biotopes for many rare species. 

Extensive programme with international speakers

A guest lecture by Jean-François Godeau shed light on the objectives and measures being implemented in other countries in Europe and how sustainable route management was developed at ELIA in Belgium and RTE in France. 

Sigrid Ranger and Mathilde Stallegger from Umweltdachverband presented a close examination of APG’s activities in the field of biodiversity. The individual measures involved in sustainable route management that help to counteract the progressive loss of biodiversity were given an exceedingly positive assessment. APG is a frontrunner in Austria in terms of the business sector’s commitment to biodiversity and thus serves as a role model for other companies. Strengthened by this positive signal, Umweltdachverband’s Business & Biodiversity Network is to be developed further in the coming years. 

APG’s Operations Manager Klaus Kaschnitz opened the conference, and Patrizia Dreier (VUM) proved to be an enchanting moderator. The programme was rounded out by excursions to line routes in the area of Spital am Pyhrn and Winkling south of Ernsthofen, as well as to the Kronstorf substation. The conference gave the representatives of the federal states (environmental ombudsmen and public authority experts) and technical offices as well as biologists and APG employees plenty of opportunity for sharing experiences and hence fertile soil for many new ideas. 

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