Ontario Turtle Tally
Urban Turtle Initiative
Healthy Water - Wildlife
Turtle Island Conservation
March 20-22, 2007
Consolidated by H. Marcks
Impacts of Infrastructure and Mitigation Techniques
Roads, railways, dams and other human-made structures serve as physical barriers, blocking animal movements and resulting in diminished ecological processes and affecting population dynamics. We need to conduct habitat connectivity analyses and look at natural heritage systems, working at different scales and creating multi-partner cooperation, to mitigate the negative impacts of these human-made structures. In response to wildlife collision hotspots, various ecopassages have been designed and installed as mitigation measures to provide safe passageways for wildlife. While more expensive, concrete passage structures are preferred to fencing because they are more permanent and don't require as much maintenance as fences. Bridges with stream flow and wide built up banks are also recommended as they account for the landscape and can be used by multiple species. To demonstrate the success of these ecopassages, and to gain public support, monitoring projects show that ecopassages are being used by wildlife and that there is a decrease in road mortalities in the area of the passage. However, we need to think about monitoring in broader terms than just looking at passage use; it's not the use of the passage that is the only factor to consider but also whether or not the population is sustainable within the area. Wildlife crossings should be correlated with populations in the area as well as the relative number of individuals within each population, by using a multi-taxa monitoring approach to find out how many different animals use the crossings. In addition, the impact of mitigation measures such as ecopassages may not be seen right away but over a time lag of about 30 - 40 years; therefore an optimal study would be long term, have a control site and take a multi-species approach.
Developing Public Support
Changing peoples' driving behaviour via signs and slowing people down is only really effective in park situations where people are already respectful of wildlife and where there is adequate enforcement. We need to work with others through outreach to encourage public stewardship and generate support for ideas such as ecopassages. Marketing professionals may be useful in this aspect as they could help determine how to make roads issues important to the individual. Since many people get injured in animal-vehicle collisions, a good initial approach is the safety issue. Ecopassages can be presented as a preventative safety measure for both people and animals, which will save money in the long run. However, ensure that the issue is presented as more than just preventing collisions, we need to talk about land issues and be well armed with key ecological arguments. It also helps to use charismatic species or species at risk to gain people's interest. However, even though people are drawn to target species, the solution should be broader and speak about biodiversity with 'poster species' presented in the context of a holistic ecosystem. We need to follow up after the meeting with some serious outreach organization on local levels and work together.
Developing Partnerships and Effective Policies
The effort in mitigating human-made structure impacts on wildlife and ecosystems has to be collective - all of the people who have the information and the power to do something have to get involved. This includes, but is not limited to, scientists, engineers, public citizens and both government and non-government organizations. To get science and stronger language (i.e., terms like "shall not be permitted") into policies, scientists, non-government organizations and citizens need to pressure the government. The environmental registry is a good resource for us to know when windows of receptivity to change exist (i.e., policy reviews) and when there are good opportunities to pressure the government. In addition to pressuring government policies to include science and stronger language, we need to start ecopassage conversations early with transportation agencies. It's imperative to start at the root planning stage so that mitigation structures can be worked through the process and put into designs early on. It is also important to share information with engineers, to have an exchange in teaching and get them more involved in ecopassages. Fortunately, engineers are quite capable of using existing knowledge and structures to create ecopassages and generally look forward to passages as new challenges.
Back to Top