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An online project which aims to uncover the impact roads have on nature in the UK has been launched by Hill and Smith Infrastructure, with backing from National Highways’ contractors.

The company, which develops highway safety barriers and other infrastructure products, set up the ‘Biodiversity and our Roads: Do we thrive where we drive?’ initiative in 2022 on the National Geographic iNaturalist app.

The long-term biodiversity and well-being project is aimed at both road sector employees and road construction partners, as well as the general public. It’s looking to give the nation a better idea of the scope of the UK’s biodiversity, while also encouraging people to get outside and explore nature, helping to improve mental and physical health.

Since its launch last year, over 1,500 individual observations and more than 550 different species have been logged. Pictures of various animals, plants, fungi and rare insects have been captured by garden cameras through the scheme.

Kathryn Cooper, head of ESG at Hill and Smith Infrastructure, said: “The feedback that we have received about the project has been really positive. People have really enjoyed the sense of purpose during their time outdoors.

“Consciously looking out for biodiversity has got people out of their heads and into the present moment, taking in the sights, sounds and smells around them, which is proven to contribute to mental well-being. It’s been great to lead improvements in mental health and well-being for our industry.”

National Highways’ smart motorway programme alliance (SMP Alliance) contractors are backing the scheme and have promised to help reduce the net loss of biodiversity in the UK.

Molly Guirdham, biodiversity lead at SMP Alliance, commented: “The iNaturalist app is allowing even more of our site colleagues to contribute by monitoring and recording biodiversity on a national level across our schemes. In turn, that is making a measurable contribution to our Enhanced Environments outcome and ultimately the SMP Alliance vision of making the road network safer, greener and evermore efficient.”

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