Wildlife & Traffic

A European Handbook for Identifying Conflicts and Designing Solutions

3 Effects of Infrastructure on Nature
Original version (2003)
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3.5 Landscape ecology perspectives

Research on the effect of road networks at a landscape or regional scale is still embryonic. The study of large-scale ecological processes is landscape ecology, which is still a young applied science with new and developing methods, techniques and applications. It is very important to take into consideration the larger context of individual infrastructure plans as these larger processes are likely to have significant impacts on nature. However, it is difficult and demanding on resources to collect empirical data on the large-scale and longterm effects of fragmentation by transport infrastructure.

To study possible conflicts between nature conservation interests and infrastructure development, new tools such as computer simulations and spatial modelling are increasingly being used. In the future, they will be important in setting operational design criteria for infrastructure development. Remotely sensed landscape data combined with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysis provide promising resources to help place roads in the landscape with minimum negative effects on habitat fragmentation. The challenge for ecological studies is to predict the effects of transport infrastructure on individuals and populations at site, local and regional scales.