Adam Hofland is Program Manager of the Multi-Annual Defragmentation Program (in Dutch: MJPO). Within this program, he sees to it that 178 bottlenecks between the Dutch nature network and the national government's infrastructure are resolved on time and within budget. After fifteen years, the MJPO will be completed in 2018! This is the primary reason for bringing the organisation of IENE2018 to the Netherlands! As initiator, Adam is chairman of the Organising Committee IENE2018 and a member of the IENE Steering Committee.

Marleen Moelants works for the Flemish Agency for Roads and Traffic in Belgium. She is a member of the Nature team and plays a bridging role between the infrastructure sector and the nature sector. Her primary task is to coordinate defragmentation. She also works on the integration of landscaping and together with her colleague Jo Laps she is responsible for roadside management and other themes related to nature and roads. She has been attending the IENE conferences since 2000 and is now a member of the Election Committee (EC).

Collaboration Netherlands and Flanders

The Netherlands and Flanders have a long history of collaboration and knowledge sharing in relation to fragmentation and roadside management. “The two regions have a largely similar ecology and we speak the same language. Of course, this makes working together easier”, says Marleen. The ecoduct Kempengrens, on the border between Flanders and the Netherlands, is the example of this collaboration in the MJPO. Adam: "This quickly became a symbol for the organisation of the conference and eventually even for the theme: crossing borders. Literally and figuratively!”

Ecology and Infrastructure

IENE has a very broad network of highly motivated and committed professionals who work at the interface of traffic infrastructure and the surrounding nature. Traditionally, ecologists in particular have attended the conference. This edition therefore also deliberately draws attention to the infrastructural side of ecological measures. We would like to focus more on the direct relation between ecological value and design, technical construction and use of materials. This is what ‘crossing borders’ is about: by better understanding those two ‘worlds’ and combining the best characteristics we can create much more efficient and effective measures to strengthen nature and biodiversity.

Unique network

The IENE network is quite extraordinary. They are not only very strong professionals in terms of content. What is particularly unique is that the members of this network know each other for many years as a result of which the conference has a very pleasant informal atmosphere. Adam: "Our aim as Organising Committee is to ensure that IENE 2018 also has this combination of strong content as well as the same pleasant atmosphere!”

IENE 2018: crossing borders

Eventually, around 554 measures have been implemented in the Netherlands thanks to the MJPO, ranging from the well-known ecoducts to small fauna tunnels. The results and lessons learned from such a large defragmentation program are shared with the rest of Europe and even the world during IENE2018. Marleen: "We want to bring participants with their different backgrounds and roles together so that they can get to know each other's work. As a researcher, contractor or commissioning party, a professional at a road authority you always work from a different perspective.” The Organising Committee feels it is important to get to know each other's perspectives, to explore each other's views. This calls for ‘crossing borders’ and will lead to better collaboration and thus to better projects in the field of infra-nature.