The latest report from the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) has revealed that the UK is the worst country in the G7 for loss of natural wildlife due to human activity.
In the last 40 years alone, one in seven of the UK’s native wildlife species have either become extinct or endangered.
Roads, railways and traffic all have a severe impact on the levels of wild biodiversity in the UK. Between 2010-2020, transport infrastructure has caused loss of habitat, pollution, fragmentation and mortality.
Natural England has also found that 40% of our native habitats and 30% of our rarest species are still declining. The number of Hedgehogs alone has halved in the UK since 2000, with experts estimating their numbers have dropped from 30 million to one million over the last 70 years.
To protect against additional damage to our ecosystems, there are a number of measures that the industry can take to promote biodiversity and safeguard habitats. These include:
- Using sustainable materials: Road surfaces should be made with materials that support the welfare of local species. For instance, residues on regular concrete can be fatal to amphibians. If building near these habitats, polymer concrete material should be used to prevent fatalities.
- Linking habitats broken by infrastructure: When a road separates two sections of an ecosystem, it’s important to build a safe link using guide walls and crossing tunnels. These measures allow native animals to cross the road safely.
- Road kerbs and gullies: A wildlife kerb with a recess can help protect animals from road accidents.
- Creating barriers: Erecting temporary fencing around construction areas can help prevent animals from wandering into the site and harming themselves.
- Compensation: Growing the remaining habitats into suitable climates for biodiversity if other mitigation measures cannot be used.
It is crucial for the transport industry to minimise its negative impact on wildlife and protect endangered habitats. By including wildlife protection measures in our designs, the impact on native species can be reduced.