Darryl is the author of his latest book A Clouded Leopard in the Middle of the Road, and a research expert. n this episode of the Green Pursuit podcast, we dive into road ecology, the impact it’s having on wildlife, and so much more!
Tell the audience a little more about yourself?
I’m an ecologist and an academic who lives in Brisbane in Australia. I’m very interested in all the different ways that people interact with nature. Both the good things and the wrong things, so there’s conflict there.
There’s love, there’s the hunting, there are all the things that we do. Most importantly, I’m interested in the negative things that we do and how we can perhaps reverse that or do something about it.
How do roads negatively impact wildlife?
That’s the ultimate question for us to talk about because roads are essential. We can’t get away from them, we don’t even notice that they’re there. In some places, this means that the biodiversity that lives on either side of the road can be isolated from each other.
Roads don’t have to be very big to become a filter where some animals can’t get through. A multi-lane highway is an absolute complete barrier, it might have been might as well be a brick wall since most animals will not be able to get through it. This has profoundly changed the way I look at the landscape as I’m moving around, or flying.
When you look down from the plane you see the entire landscape has been divided up into little squares. In many of those cases, the animals on one side of the road simply won’t be able to get across to the other side of the road. Every time animals are isolated and fragmented, they are more likely to go extinct.
Is there a way that we can stop using roads to reduce the harm they’re causing?
No, that’s not possible. Currently, there’s a minor movement in the Western part of the United States, in places like Oregon and California to remove roads. Washington state is actually removing roads, they’re using bulldozers to dig them up, allowing vegetation to come back.
However, this isn’t the solution. We need to find out how we can allow the flow of natural flow of animals to move across without endangering them. That’s what we’re trying to do with road ecology.
Are there any tips for us to become more conscious drivers so we can reduce the negative side-effects that occur on roads?
Yeah. Road ecology is trying to span all of the different aspects of this, and probably the most difficult one is to influence and get drivers to behave differently. There are road signs up everywhere, saying to be careful but they have little to no effect.
Interactive signs have had good trials based on my experience. For example, in Australia, there’s a sign that shows when koalas are in the vicinity. This would notify drivers to be careful when koalas move at a particular time of the year across the road.
What’s one positive change you’d like to see in your lifetime regarding road ecology, or just in general?
Large-scale overpasses built for wildlife estates have increased over time. A popular one that sticks to mind is located in Seattle.
But, now we’ve got so much data showing just how wonderful they are. Animals use them immediately. As road ecology continues to evolve, this gets me excited.
I hope you enjoyed my talk with Darryl and that you took away some value. If you want to listen to the entire interview, click play below or head over to your favorite platform (Apple, Spotify, or Google.)
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