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Wildlife & Traffic

A European Handbook for Identifying Conflicts and Designing Solutions

7 Solutions to reduce transport infrastructure impacts on wildlife

Updated version (2022). Produced in cooperation with the project Horizon 2020 BISON. ‘Biodiversity and infrastructure synergies and opportunities for European transport networks’.

Original version (2003)

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7.1 Introduction

Concern about the loss of biodiversity due to transport infrastructure networks has increased in the last decades, creating an incentive for environmental and transportation organisations to jointly address this problem, develop solutions and mainstream biodiversity within transportation.

Solutions need to be applied to both existing and new infrastructure while at the same time, climate change adaptions and technical innovations including nature-based solutions will create opportunities to prevent the effects of fragmentation and reduce wildlife mortality.

The impact of transport infrastructure on biodiversity is diverse (see Chapter 3 – Effects of Infrastructure on Nature) and so are mitigation measures. This chapter focuses on measures to be applied by the transport sector to benefit biodiversity which can also increase traffic safety and enhance climate change adaptation (Figure 7.1.1). It includes

  • Measures that aim to reduce the impact of traffic on animal populations by reducing traffic-related mortality and disturbances to adjacent habitats.
  • Measures that aim to reduce the barrier effect of infrastructure and consequent habitat fragmentation by providing safe crossing provisions for animals and links for habitat connection.
Solutions to reduce transport infrastructure impacts on wildlife types of measures
Figure 7.1.1 – Types of measures which can be combined to reduce habitat fragmentation and to enhance biodiversity in habitats related to infrastructure (HTI).

In this chapter, for each measure, a general description is given followed by key information on design and points for special attention. Technical specifications for materials and technical design details are presented if they are of particular importance to ensure measures function and may be helpful in finding appropriate construction solutions. However, giving exact design instructions to the engineers is beyond the scope of this handbook, which is intended for use throughout Europe or internationally where appropriate. Country-specific guidelines may provide more detailed information. A list of other handbooks can be found in Transport Ecology Guidelines Portal.

Many measures have been well tested and a large number of recent monitoring projects and research have increased knowledge considerably. Best practice according to this current knowledge is presented for each measure in addition to further information on innovative techniques under development. Some existing measures, even if widely-applied, have nonetheless proven to be ineffective. These are discussed in the text, but no design details are given, since their use cannot be recommended.

In general, a combination of different mitigation measures is required to meet mitigation goals and to avoid any associated negative impacts. Fencing and wildlife passages in particular have combined effects. Fences reduce the number of collisions between wildlife and vehicles, but at the same time they increase habitat fragmentation, so they must always be combined with wildlife passages that allow target species a safe crossing. Measures to reduce noise, light and other traffic related disturbances to habitats related to infrastructure (HTI) and landscapes adjacent to infrastructure are also important to reduce habitat fragmentation.

The success of mitigation will strongly benefit from clear objectives and measurable goals that allow for monitoring, evaluation and adaptive management of measures taken. An appropriate mitigation plan should be developed early enough in the infrastructure life cycle to guide the development of appropriate mitigation approaches (see Chapter 4 – Developing Integrated Solutions) and to safeguard funding for corrective measures that may be necessary over the lifetime of the infrastructure.