The strips of nature along the side of transport infrastructure provide habitats for animals and plants. SBB is committed to protecting them.
SBB’s dense rail network is fringed with many hundreds of kilometres of species-rich embankments, forest margins, hedges and individual trees. This ecological network alongside densely used transport infrastructure provides habitats for various plant species, some of which are rare.
SBB regularly maintains embankments and areas of woodland along the rail network to ensure services run safely and with minimum disruption. This involves cutting back the trees and shrubs which line the tracks, regularly mowing embankments and removing invasive plant growth. Maintaining these areas is a never-ending task that also benefits nature. This periodic maintenance has produced graduated forest margins and boundary structures – these are valuable, extensive habitats which are rich in plant species.
Some railway embankments are home to rare plant species such as orchids, which demonstrates their ecological importance. The rare military orchid (Orchis militaris) thrives on a few sections of embankment along the rail network. “Embankments are important habitats for rare plant species, as they are not used for agriculture and therefore not fertilised,” says nature specialist Marianne Gmünder. “That has a positive impact on plants like the military orchid which like hardy environments.”
Many rail infrastructure structures such as station rooves, embankments and forests are home to a great wealth of different animal species. However, our dense transport infrastructure also cuts across animals’ habitats. This isolates populations and leads to a decline in animal numbers. SBB is therefore reconnecting divided habitats and enhancing them, for example through the following projects: