Road Ecology Center
Targets and measures for consideration of natural and cultural heritage assets in the transport system
- Author(s): Nilsson, Lars
- Sjölund, Anders
- et al.
Integration of environmental issues in sectorial work has long been regarded as essential in order that environmental problems may be solved and new problems may be avoided, i.e., in order that the development of a sustainable society may be possible. It has still been very difficult for environmental issues to hold their own among other interests, not least of which is the infrastructure sector. Areas which could be described in terms of numbers, preferably in monetary terms, have done better than others. It is, however, possible to integrate natural and cultural heritage assets in infrastructure planning without the need for monetary values. This demands a systematic way of dealing with natural and cultural heritage assets which comprises, at the same time, both the national level and the whole chain of measures down to individual infrastructure projects, such as new construction, management and maintenance. The key factor is target control at all levels. The Swedish National Road Administration, in cooperation with other transport authorities, has developed a systematic method of dealing with natural and cultural heritage assets, entitled targets and measures for consideration of natural and cultural heritage assets in the transport systems. Tests of the method have been performed in actual road management projects. The method has been applied in both maintenance districts and road investment projects. The test projects have passed through one or more planning stages, but as yet there is no completed road project in which the method has been applied throughout, i.e. from preliminary study to a completed road. An analysis of the application of the method in road management processes has been performed by the Department of Landscape Planning, Ultuna, of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). The aim of the analysis was to answer questions relating to both the conditions for successful implementation and satisfactory results of the method, and the processes which may be thought to influence effective implementation. The analysis has been carried out through interviews and through studies of the documents and results. The results of the test projects clearly suggest that the method enhances clarity and awareness of natural and cultural heritage assets, that it breaks with the culture of negotiations among interests during the planning process in favour of a holistic approach and a more open-ended and result-oriented discussion, and that the method encourages interaction with other players by virtue of the targets which are expressed in tangible terms and are based on common concepts. The results also demonstrate that it is easier to strike a balance between target areas, and that the method makes for a better decision base. On the whole, the players involved in the test projects are very much in favour of the method To sum up, results so far are very positive, and the method shows great potential for integrating qualitative values such as natural and cultural heritage assets in road management processes. The test projects also highlight the need for further development in some areas of the method. What is without a doubt most important is to develop knowledge of, and support for, work with project targets and their formulation. There are a great need for support and aids for the production and formulation of descriptions for natural and cultural heritage assets as the basis in formulating project targets and in analysing the impacts of the proposed measures in relation to the project targets in the EIA. Furthermore, the interface between a target-controlled planning process and the EIA is perceived as lacking in clarity and hard to understand. The test projects also show quite plainly that many problems, which are not directly coupled to the method and cannot be solved by modifying this, remain to be solved. Examples of such problems are the expertise and ability of the users and shortcomings in institutional support. The method provides good opportunities for greater participation by the public and non-profitmaking organisations. However, there is a great risk that these good opportunities will not be realised and the process will continue to be dominated by experts, unless methods and aids are developed so that the opportunities provided can be put to good use. The new approach that the method demands from nature conservancy and cultural heritage preservation agencies has not been fully accepted.