Natura 2000 is the centerpiece of the European Union nature & biodiversity policy. Is the largest network of protected areas in the world. The aim of the network is to assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats.
With Europe's roads at saturation point it is more important than ever to find alternative ways of transporting freight around the Union. Inland waterways offer an effective and environmentally sound way to help lighten the load. With an efficient, reliable EU-wide network of over 37,000 kilometres that is seriously under-used - industry experts say capacity could easily be increased by 100 % - canals and rivers have a vital role to play. This video shows how the EU's Marco Polo programme is helping to ensure that one of the oldest methods of freight transport in Europe plays its part in helping the EU to chart a course towards a greener horizon. It focuses on three projects in three different countries. In Bulgaria, we see how Marco Polo assistance is helping to develop freight services on the Danube river – a waterway some industry experts say is only being used at 15 percent of it's capacity. The project featured hopes to shift 61,000 trucks away from roads in the Balkan region over three years. In Vienna we see how Marco Polo is supporting an 'e-learning' programme for students training for a career in the logistics industry. The scheme is designed to ensure that these future logistics managers will 'think inland waterways' when deciding how to send goods around the European Union. We also visit Magdeburg in Eastern Germany. Here we see how Marco Polo assistance has helped to develop an innovative shipping scheme that can cope with sending goods on along the river Elbe to link up with Germany's deep water canal network, even in summer months when water levels can be very low.
Germany, Austria and Bulgaria.