Green Infrastructure


Spatial Planning and Ecological Networks (SPEN)

ECNC coordinated this two-year project that studied to what extent and how the sectors dealing with spatial planning policy and those dealing with the implementation of ecological networks in Europe interact. The spatial planning sector is essential to the successful establishment of ecological networks.


The aim of this project was not only to map the interactions but especially to analyse how both circuits can benefit from each other and can learn from each other.


This project focused on the following research questions:

  • To what extent are policy regarding spatial planning and policy regarding ecological networks based on the same conceptual and policy assumptions?
  • What practical experiences are there in Europe at international and national level with regard to cooperation between the nature conservation sector and the sector of spatial planning with regard to designing and developing ecological networks?
  • To what extent is the ‘ecological network approach’ known to actors that are involved in developing and implementing national and international policy with regard to spatial planning, and to what extent is this approach seen as relevant and useful for their work?
  • What are the perspectives for enlarging the active involvement of the sector spatial planning in the development of ecological networks in Europe? To what extent can one build on existing processes, instruments and networks?

The project studied Europe-wide processes as well as selected countries: Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain.

Time frame

The project ran from April 2007 to January 2009.


  • Syzygy, the Netherlands
  • Orbicon A/S, Denmark
  • Leibniz Institute of Ecological and Regional Development - IÖR, Germany
  • Agency for Nature Conservation and Landscape Protection of the Czech Republic - AOPK, Czech Republic
  • Terra, Spain


This project was funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Directorate Knowledge Management.


As part of the project 'SPEN - Interactions between spatial planning policy and ecological networks in Europe', the project partners produced country-level studies about the level and nature of integration between spatial planning and ecological networks in Denmark, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. In addition, two overviews of the spatial planning - ecological networks interactions at European level were produced. These results were first presented at a European Workshop on Ecological Networks which ECNC and Alterra organized on 1 and 2 October 2008 in Oisterwijk (the Netherlands).

The results are available in digital format below. In addition, a specially designed portfolio was produced to contain all the project results as they become available. A copy of the SPEN portfolio (with currently available contents) can be ordered by contacting the project coordinator.