The recently published Handbook of Road Ecology offers a comprehensive summary of approximately 30 years of global efforts to quantify the impacts of roads and traffic on wildlife, and measures for effective mitigation. Alterra researchers Edgar van der Grift and Fabrice Ottburg, specialists on road ecology, contributed to several chapters of the book, which is essential reading for all those involved in road construction and management.
In the authoritative Handbook of Road Ecology some of the world’s leading researchers from over 25 countries present the current status of the ecological sustainability of linear infrastructures (primarily road, rail and utility easements) that dissect and fragment landscapes globally. It outlines the potential impacts, demonstrates how this infrastructure is being improved, and how broad ecological principles are applied to mitigate the impact of road networks on wildlife. Each chapter summarizes important lessons, and includes lists of further reading and thoroughly up to date references and explains best-practices based on a number of successful international case studies.
Wildlife crossing structures, such as green bridges, help animals cross safely under or over roads or other linear infrastructure and hence play an important role in the conservation of biodiversity. “Measuring the rate of use by wildlife is an important first step in almost every evaluation of wildlife crossing structures,” Alterra researcher Edgar van der Grift says. A more difficult but nevertheless highly important step is to assess the effectiveness of these measures in reducing road impacts. Unfortunately, the majority of studies of the use and/or effectiveness of crossing structures by wildlife lack a proper study design which limits the quality and/or reliability of the findings. In the handbook Edgar van der Grift provides practical guidelines for evaluating use and effectiveness of road mitigation measures: “We outline all essential elements of a good study design to assess use or evaluate effectiveness of wildlife crossing structures and how to incorporate such studies into road planning. We also point out the need for more experimental research in road ecology to provide stronger evidence for what works and what doesn’t.”
In his contribution Alterra researcher Fabrice Ottburg expresses the dynamic character of streams and rivers and their changing nature that needs to be accommodated in planning, expanding or operating transportation infrastructure where roads and other linear infrastructure cross water or occur in a floodplain. “This is necessary not only to minimise direct ecological effects to habitat and fish,” Ottburg says, “but also to help reduce the potential damage to infrastructure from flooding, erosion and channel movement. Damage to infrastructure can often lead to additional environmental impacts. New infrastructure should avoid waterways where feasible and any crossings that are needed should be designed to allow the natural flow and function of the waterway. Existing road crossings that are barriers to the movement of fish should also be modified to be more natural and improve connectivity for fish and the support of natural stream function.”
The Handbook of Road Ecology is essential reading for all those involved in the planning, design, assessment, maintenance and construction of existing and new roads. This handbook is an accessible resource for both developed and developing countries, including transportation agencies, environmental/conservation agencies, NGOs, and road funding and donor organisations.
Handbook of Road Ecology. 522 pp. ISBN: 978-1-118-56818-7. Price: € 128,30. You can order it at Wiley Publishers