Crossing roads can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, even for the most well-seasoned and experienced road crosser amongst us. It’s easy to forget your green cross code when you’re in a bit of a rush (stop, look, listen and all that). Can we cross just before the green man comes on? Can we cross just after he disappears? Do bikes have to stop at zebra crossings? These are all questions we’ve asked ourselves before stepping off that curb into the dangerous unknown.
Animals are even less well-equipped to deal with the dangerous world of traffic and, too often, when they decide to give crossing a go, it doesn’t end too well.
To help solve this problem, a habitat conservation practice has developed which involves building wildlife crossings to allow animals to cross human-made barriers (such as roads) safely. Structures which have been made for this project include underpass tunnels, viaducts, overpasses (for large or herd-like animals), amphibian tunnels, fish ladders, tunnels and culverts (for small animals such as hedgehogs, otters and badgers) and green rooves (for butterflies and birds).
As well as protecting the animals while they’re crossing, wildlife bridges offer rich potential for learning about the movements of animals, with infrared cameras often installed at crossing sites to capture and record animals in transit along with web cams which can transmit real-time wildlife movement data. This all helps reconnect us (the busy people in the fast cars who often whiz by the countryside in a bit of a blur) with the natural landscape around us and become more aware of the impact the fragmentation of the landscape has on the animals in our fields and forests.
You can have a look at a nice selection of wildlife crossings from all around the world here