The Elia-RTE LIFE project (2011-2017) is co-financed by the European Commission, Elia (Belgium's electricity transmission system operator), RTE (manager the electricity transmission network in France) and the Walloon Region.
When high voltage power lines pass through a forest, the issue of safety becomes paramount. No tree can touch or come too close to the power cables. To prevent this, Transmission System Operators (TSOs) cut vegetation on a regular basis.
The main objective of the project is the transformation of these forest rights-of-way from high voltage lines into ecological corridors in Belgium and France. The restoration actions will aim to put in place innovative practices for the management of these green corridors in the forest. Another important goal is to sensitize different audiences to the importance of biodiversity in these linear habitats.
7 main developments were carried out under high voltage lines: planting / restoration of stepped edges, planting of wild fruit trees, installation of pasture and mowing infrastructure, restoration of natural habitats, digging of ponds, fight against invasive species and seedlings of flowering meadows. For each development, the Elia-RTE LIFE project combines electrical safety with capacity for biodiversity.
In total, 51 ha will have been developed on 7 sites spread over French territory. In Belgium, 440 ha will have been developed on 28 sites in Wallonia.
These developments, which are real alternatives to the traditional management of electric rights-of-way, are developed and managed with the assistance of local partners. These partners participate in the choice of facilities and ensure the sustainability of the work done.
Biological inventories on different groups (butterflies, birds, chiroptera, botany, amphibians and reptiles) were conducted throughout the project to measure the real impact of the actions on biodiversity. All results are available on the website. A cost-benefit analysis was also conducted with Elia in Belgium, demonstrating that these alternatives were 2 to 4 times costly than conventional management by the TSO. They are also favorable to different levels that are difficult to quantify: better integration into the landscape, better acceptance by local residents and improved ecosystem services rendered by natural habitats, and improved image of the TSO.
Communication actions make it possible to reach the general public on the one hand but also forest specialists. About 40 didactic panels have been set up in the field to explain what has been done for nature, three viewing areas offer wildlife viewing opportunities and brochures highlight all the experiences gathered throughout the project.
At the European level, the LIFE project Elia-RTE has been in contact with the TSOs of 17 European countries. The aim was to inform these TSOs about the techniques used in the project and to form partnerships to launch pilot sites in other European countries.
 LIFE Elia-RTE - Creation of ecological corridors under high voltage lines
- Category: Labelled projects