Eco tunnels building – ecological solution projects
Lately the most developed countries have been paying attention to the questions of the nature preservation and protection of endangered species at their territories. Every politic leader tries to include Global Climate Changes questions and wildlife conservations problems solutions into their pre-election debate, public persons do their best to attract media and general public attention to the problem and persuade them to be gentle to their neighbors on the planet.
The builders, literally constructing the future of those countries, also contribute to the Wildlife conservation. Beside obvious ecological disastrous of recent years, the nature suffers when wild animals encounter progress in their natural habitat, primary it concerns road hits. The number of the road hits increases each year with the development of the transport infrastructure and the number of the vehicles rising all the time, leading to fatal outcome for one or more parties.
According to the calculation made by the Transport University of Montana, the number of road hits rose twice in last 15 years in the USA.
The same research work provides information about 200 people dying each year in these encounters with the wild animals on the highways. The engineering solution of the problem is quite simple: building of the special crossings for the wild animals where the humans interfere with their habits by crossing the migration paths with the highways. Such wildlife crossings are various in their form: tunnels, viaducts, green bridges, overpasses and unique tunnels for certain species.
Europeans call them ecoducts. The first ecoducts appeared in France in 60s. At present hundreds of them serve for safety of the animals in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and France. The number rises each year. Some of them are quite interesting, for example, the longest one is situated in the Netherlands. The Natuurbrug Zanderij Crailo is half a mile long and crosses a highway, a rail road and part of a golf course.
The first ecological tunnel in Russia
The first ecological tunnel in Russia was opened at the Far East only in 2016. The tunnel was constructed for cars, not animals, but it allows freeing the mountain pass of the existing road system.
The mountain pass is the natural habitat of the extremely rare Amur leopards, only 51 leopards left. In such a way it is very important first step to the Wildlife conservation in Russia. How does it work? Why do we need it?
The experience of Canada
Almost 15 years of research work shows the Trans-Canada Highway was safely crossed by inhabitants of the Banff National Park in Canada 185,000 times. The highway is closed into the tunnel at this section. In the same National Park grizzly bears successfully use 22 (!) underground passages and 2 over crossings, which were built in 80s and 90s to let the local animals safely cross 4-lines Trans-Canada highway.
According to the research work of Mike Sawaya from the Montana State University at least 15 grizzly bears and 17 black bears used these crossings, that gives us 20% of their total population in the area. Each tunnel costs almost $4 million, but together they reduced the number of road hits by 80%.
Project for animals in Kenya
Very significant for human kind – wildlife relations project was implemented in Kenya in 2014.
The tunnel costed $250,000 and was constructed thanks to the sponsorship. Finally it allowed two herds of the African elephants to meet after years of separation.
The herds are 2,000 and 5,000 animals. The height of the tunnel is 4.5 m. The special corridor was constructed near the tunnel making the total cost of the project about 1 million dollars.
The tunnel had been at the project stage for a long time before the head of the Virgin Atlantic Richard Branson donated first $250,000. Later the Netherlands government joined the sponsorship. In its turn it attracted more sponsors. First tunnels for the elephants were constructed in India and China.
Wildlife crossings in the USA
At present the USA, known for its extensively developed road system, actively construct different types of wildlife crossing. In November, 2016, the construction of 12 underground crossing was finished in the Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge, Texas. This Wildlife refuge is surrounded with the highways and one crosses it. About 40% of the endangered ocelot local population died there recently.
Now the staff report about only 80 wild cats left. Also the Texas bobcats share the Refuge with ocelots and also suffer from the road hits. The 8 million project became the joint achievement of the Texas Department of Transport and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The creators of the project aim to save the rare species from the disappearance there. The wildlife-saving projects, which did not become the part of the State programs, look for funding through fund raising programs, proving the general tendency of the “green” policy.
Such a project is the crossing under the Highway 101 for the mountain lions in Santa Monica. The total cost of the crossing is estimated as $55 million dollars, at the same time what is the price for the lives of the lions, which appeared to be separated from the main population and try to reach their fellows usually failing on the road. The special fund was created to raise the required amount. There is a hope for more wildlife crossings projects in Russia in 2017, which was announced the year of ecology in the country.
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