A long but very good article on why building more roads is terrible for wildlife.

Nothing is worse for sensitive wildlife than a road. Over the last few decades, studies in a variety of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems have demonstrated that many of the most pervasive threats to biological diversity - habitat destruction and fragmentation, edge effects, exotic species invasions, pollution, and overhunting - are aggravated by roads. Roads have been implicated as mortality sinks for animals ranging from snakes to wolves; as displacement factors affecting animal distribution and movement patterns; as population fragmenting factors; as sources of sediments that clog streams and destroy fisheries; as sources of deleterious edge effects; and as access corridors that encourage development, logging and poaching of rare plants and animals. Road-building in National Forests and other public lands threatens the existence of de facto wilderness and the species that depend on wilderness.

Despite heightened recognition (by informed people) of the harmful effects of roads, road density continues to increase in the US and other countries. Federal, state, and local transportation departments devote huge budgets to construction and upgrading of roads. Multinational lending institutions, such as the World Bank, finance roads into pristine rainforest, which usher in a flood of settlers who destroy both the rainforest and the indigenous cultures. Public land-managing agencies build thousands of miles of roads each year to support their resource extraction activities, at a net cost to the taxpayer. The US Forest Service alone plans to build or reconstruct almost 600,000 miles of roads in the next 50 years. Most public agencies disregard the ecological impacts of roads and attempt to justify timber roads as benefiting recreation and wildlife management. Even when a land manager recognizes the desirability of closing roads, he or she usually contends that such closures would be unacceptable to the public.

This article will review some ecological effects of roads, with emphasis on impacts to wildlife (broadly defined). My concern is with all roads, from primitive logging roads to four-lane highways. Although the effects of different types of roads vary, virtually all are bad, and the net effect of all roads is nothing short of catastrophic. The technical literature that pertains to this topic is vast, and an entire book would be needed to summarize it adequately. Consider this only an introduction, or an "executive summary" of a massive tragedy.

Direct effects, such as flattened fauna, are easy to see. In contrast, many indirect effects of roads are cumulative and involve changes in community structure and ecological processes that are not well understood. Yet, these long-term effects signal a deterioration in ecosystems that far surpasses in importance the visual and olfactory insult to us of a bloated deer by the roadside.

 

 

Read the rest here.

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