Green Corridors - Restoration of wildlife corridors under overhead lines in Belgium and France




LIFE Elia-RTE, Elia, RTE, Ecofirst


LIFE Elia-RTE is a project that combines electrical safety of grid lines with biodiversity-friendly vegetation management by creating green corridors under high-voltage overhead lines and by relying on a multi-partner approach. It was run between 2011-2017, together between the Belgian TSO, Elia, French TSO, RTE, and ecological consultancy, Ecofirst

In 2023, Ecofirst released a biological evolution- 10 years after report on behalf of Elia. The report presented an analysis of 10 years of biological monitoring which was implemented on the restored sites, to evaluate the new management. 


  • Enhance biodiversity through tangible actions by creating green corridors on 28 sites in Belgium and 7 sites in France 

  • Positively influence the perception of vegetation management in connection with high-voltage power lines 

  • Create conditions under which tree growth will be much slower in order to avoid recurrent tree cutting 

  • Manage the practice in the long term via a win-win multi-partner approach 

  • Share the experiences throughout Europe 

Main information 

The LIFE Elia-RTE team aimed to establish a new kind of vegetation management underneath grid lines in Belgium and France. They restored forest edges and natural habitats, dug natural ponds, planted conservatory orchards, sowed meadows and created pasturage facilities for local framers. This approach not only turned out to be more biodiversity-friendly by avoiding the traditional clear-cut solutions under grid lines, but also proved to be 1.4 to 3.9 times cheaper on a 30 years scale than conventional forms of vegetation management.  

The practice, which involved many stakeholders including TSOs, authorities, forest owners, NGOs and academics, has some impressive results to show. Through its efforts the LIFE Elia-RTE team managed to restore 20 ha of natural habitats and improve the biodiversity network by creating connecting zones between core areas of conservation. By relying on local partnerships, they also succeeded in improving acceptance for high-voltage grid lines.  

The ‘10 years-after report’ examined the sites of restoration after the conclusion of the project in 2017 to measure the success of the LIFE Programme. The monitoring concluded the success of restoration activities in 70% of the LIFE sites, with only one (small) out of 68 sites clearly failing. Furthermore, the monitoring established that in 82% of the LIFE sites, the ‘biological gain’ was ‘good’ or ‘exceptional’. The report provides a detailed analysis of the phytosociological description of the sites, which proved a clear increase in the population and diversity of species in most of the LIFE Elia-RTE sites. The positive development of these ecosystems becomes even more striking when we consider that many of these areas are classified among the Annex I habitats of the EU Habitat Directive as Special Areas of Conservation, whose EU conservation status elsewhere in Belgium is ‘bad’. For example, 111ha out of 136ha of grass- and heathlands in the Elia corridors are recognised as Natura 2000 habitat types. Calculated for the biographic region of Belgium, the Elia corridors represent 1-10% of the overall surface areas of their kind and thus contribute significantly to the Natura 2000 network.  

Additional information 

  • Life Elia-RTE is a 6.5-year project that ran between 2011 - 2017. It was led by a team of seven people coming from the two NGOs Solon asbl and CARAH. The project is estimated to cost 3 M€ and is co-financed by the European Commission (38%), the Walloon region (27%), Elia, the Belgian TSO (22%) and by RTE, the French TSO (13%) 

  • Although the project concluded in 2017, the project team has been asked by many different organisations to present their approach and their outcomes. Today, Life Elia-RTE is actively communicating with TSOs from seventeen different EU members states about biodiversity.  

  • After the conclusion of the project in 2017, Elia decided to continue the work undertaken and expanded the new practices to other parts of the Belgian grid. The project, as part of their sustainability action plan “Act Now” is titled “Ecological Corridors” and is 100% funded by Elia.  

  • Final results of the projects from the concluding conferences can be found here (in French). 

  • The project was followed up in 2019 with the redaction of a report on biological indicators. It can be found here (in French).  

  • The project was recently monitored by Ecofirst and the findings were shown in the ‘10 years-after report’ released in 2023. It can be found here.

RGI gratefully acknowledges the EU LIFE funding support:

EU LIFE funding support Logo

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the LIFE Programme. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.