The Danube Region is home of an extremely rich biodiversity and of many human communities across Central and Eastern Europe. Preserving the balance between wildlife and human activity will represent one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. Today, large scale developments supported by infrastructure projects exert significant environmental impact at an irreversible level; linear transport infrastructure connects people, but very often it disconnects wildlife.
In this context, the aim of the HARMON project was to produce a quick (due to constrains in time and budget) assessment of the state of play / status quo in harmonization of green and grey infrastructure in the Danube Region (with a focus on four countries – Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Romania) and, based on this, to propose a strategic action plan aiming to support development of future projects in this field of interest.
During the HARMON project, we found that operationalization of the harmonization status is difficult without a series of pre-defined parameters which would foster a more homogenous interpretation of the terminology related to the harmonization of green and grey infrastructure.
Comparing the state of play in different countries in order to identify common needs and existing good-practices for potential transfers required a common logical framework which could be used as a strategic action plan for harmonization. As a result, we developed a list of parameters to reflect the harmonization status, structured on four categories/levels: A) Policy and strategies, B) Planning and environmental impact assessment, C) Implementation and management and D) Education, awareness, consultation and communication.
The four levels approach was adopted also by IENE’s Global Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Transport and other Linear Infrastructure.
The development of parameters for assessing harmonization status is the main original contribution of the HARMON project. Acknowledging that, this is the first attempt, and parameters may need further refinement, we recommend that transnational or multiple-countries initiatives should consider this approach which highlights common objectives and existing know-how in the field of harmonization. This is of special importance for the countries from Southeastern European countries where the development of transport infrastructure is much needed and is expected to be happening over a short period.
As the aim of HARMON project was to provide those synthetic information structured in such a way to facilitate the future development of projects in the field of harmonization of green and grey infrastructure, our approach was as follows:
- to develop a framework for data-collection that will provide structured information which will facilitate further assessment. The framework uses a set of needs and challenges as parameters to illustrate the status of harmonization in project countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Romania), on four levels (parameters ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ mentioned earlier);
- to collate data from existing information available through similar initiatives/ projects (TRANSGREEN, GreenWeb, ConnectGREEN, other DTP-funded studies, LIFE projects) or from partners’ expert opinion and based on past interaction with interested groups;
- to identify gaps for each country, by comparing the needs/ challenges with the results/ outcomes of past and current activities and with the results from other projects;
- to compare gaps with those identified in other studies and to update the list if necessary;
- to compare gaps across countries in order to understand if there are similarities or if there are solutions already in place that could be exchanged across countries;
- to list and to describe possible target groups for the main project;
- to (re-)engage and/ or to further develop our existing network with new contacts;
- to constantly communicate with target groups as efficiently as possible (participate at project events, at conferences, in face-to-face meetings, e-mail, skype/phone communication) in order to collect relevant information (their needs, resources, opportunities, willingness and capacity to engage in future collaboration), and their general feed-back.
The main contributions of the HARMON project in line with the aim of harmonization of green and grey infrastructure were:
- Elaboration of country State of Play Reports on harmonization of green and grey infrastructure in Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Romania, which include evaluation of past and existing projects targeting the grey and green infrastructure development and defining the most efficient way to support the improvement and coexistence between them;
- Development of a Strategic Action Plan for supporting new projects aimed at harmonization of grey and green infrastructure in the Danube Region and not only, based on needs and know-how assessment;
- Supporting the development of a main project proposal (DTP SaveGREEN) in the field of harmonization of green and grey infrastructure in the Danube Region;
- Strengthening the GreenWeb (green-web.eu) platform of specialists (as a future IENE group for Southeastern and Central Europe) initiated by the project’s partners which will seek to work on Green and Grey Infrastructure harmonization through proactive engagement and dialogue with all stakeholders in order to find the best solutions to meet the objectives of EU policies for economic development, biodiversity conservation.
 Georgiadis L (Coord), 2019. A Global Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Transport and other Linear Infrastructure. IENE, ICOET, ANET, ACLIE, WWF, IUCN, Paris, France.
 Draft discussed by partners during the HARMON kick-off meeting in Brno
 Huber, M., Jungmeier, M., Glatz-Jorde, S. Höfferle, P., Berger, V. (2018): Ecological Connectivity in the Danube Region. Final Report. Study commissioned by Bayrisches Staatsministerium für Umwelt und Verbraucherschutz. E.C.O. Institut für Ökologie, Klagenfurt, 75 p.
Radu Moț, Zarand Association, Romania,
Lazaros Georgiadis, Biologist, Environmental Consultant, Greece & IENE1,
Florina Ciubuc, Zarand Association, Romania,
Roland Grillmayer, Environment Agency Austria,
Miroslav Kutal, Friends of the Earth Czech Republic, Olomouc branch,
Emma Gileva, Black Sea NGO Network, Bulgaria,
Niki Voumvoulaki, Egnatia Odos SA, Greece,
Elke Hahn, Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology of Austria & IENE1
Roxana Stoian, National Agency for Environmental Protection of Romania,
Anders Sjölund2, Trafikverket – The Swedish Transport Administration.
1Member of IENE Governance Board
2Chair of IENE Governance Board
Hildegard Meyer, WWF CEE, Austria,
Cristian-Remus Papp, WWF DCP Romania,
Marius Ninu Dumitrescu, Andreea Socaciu, Roxana Tohăneanu, Cornel Negrea – Zarand Association, Romania.
Moț, R., Georgiadis, L., Ciubuc, F., Grillmayer, R., Kutal, M., Gileva, E., Voumvoulaki, N., Hahn, E., Sjölund, A., Stoian, R.; 2019. State of Play Report on Harmonization of Green & Grey Infrastructure in Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Romania. HARMON – Harmonization of Green and Grey Infrastructure in Danube Region; Danube Transnational Programme/ Seed Money Facility, 2019.
Produced by1 – 8 during the Seed Money Facility project: HARMON – “Harmonization of Green and Grey Infrastructure in Danube Region” (DTP-SMF1-133), as part of the Danube Transnational Programme (http://www.interreg-danube.eu/) co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF):
1Zarand Association, (Leader Partner), Romania, www.zarand.org
2Environment Agency Austria, (Project Partner), Austria, http://www.umweltbundesamt.at
3Friends of the Earth, Olomouc branch, (Project Partner), Check Republic, www.olomouc.hnutiduha.cz
4Black Sea NGO Network, (Project Partner), Bulgaria, www.bsnn.org
5Egnatia Odos S.A. EL, (Associated Partner), Hellas, www.egnatia.gr
6Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology, (Associated Partner), Austria, www.bmvit.at
7 The National Environmental Protection Agency, (Associated Partner), Romania, www.anpm.ro
8IENE-Infrastructure and Ecology Network Europe, (Associated Partner), France, www.iene.info