The roads we drive on intersect the local ecology, where plants, animals, and bodies of water attempt to thrive within the disturbed environment. And maintaining that roadside ecology is more than just cutting grass, picking up litter and pulling weeds, it’s appreciating the work that needs to be to continue to allow the natural environment, and everything in it, to thrive. Roads, the way we design them, operate them, and maintain them, must account for the surrounding environment.
A team from WSP Canada worked with members of the Transportation Association of Canada to draft a report, Managing and Enhancing Terrestrial Road Ecology, which is available as a free download, to build appreciation for the best practices for maintaining the environment surrounding our roadways.
“The synthesis document addresses established and well-studied concerns, such as wildlife-collision mitigation methods, as well as emerging concerns like ice road management; and endangered species mitigation (e.g., bats and bridges, or caribou collision management),” says Dee Patriquin, Senior Environmental and Regulatory Planner at WSP in Canada and co-author of the report. “It offers a scan of the academic, government and practitioner literature and draws on practical experience with mitigation strategies to offer strategies to address concerns from the design to construction and O&M phase of projects.”
The Transportation Association of Canada brings together transportation organizations and practitioners from across Canada, from federal, provincial and municipal agencies as well as consultancies to promote best practices in the transportation sector. This project was sponsored by an advisory committee representing that diversity of government agencies, from across Canada, to address both common and regionally specific concerns with managing road ecology issues.
The report includes the identification of “Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) to help avoid, minimize or compensate for the direct and indirect effects of roads, across Canada’s diverse geographic environments and road systems.” As well, broader principles for management of terrestrial road ecology over the entire life cycle are provided, which include mitigation planning, environmental impact assessment, and multi-criteria decision frameworks. In terms of mitigation, there are three over-arching categories that envelop the considerations needed: mitigation of wildlife collisions, vegetation management, and emerging concerns. The emerging concerns include issue like northern roads, species at risk, impacts of road lighting, and restoration of habitats.
The report states that: “This synthesis provides a general overview of the range of practices used to manage terrestrial road ecology issues across Canada. Further, it identifies ‘state of the art’ mitigation options, relative to their application across Canada. The information provided offers solutions, and considerations for appropriate use in a given ecological setting, and relative to the stages of the road life cycle. The resulting recommendations of Beneficial Management Practices, or BMPs, builds on scientific research and practitioner experience, illustrated with applied project examples and case studies.”
The report also provides recommendations for where more work needs to be done to reduce gaps in available mitigation measures, including:
- “The need for context specific solutions, customized to geographic ecological conditions, broader land use planning objectives, stakeholder interests and available funding.
- The need for collaboration and partnerships, to generate the public and political support to sustain mitigation projects and programs.”
- Funding for “sufficient resources for monitoring, for both scientific assessment and adaptive management.”
- “Canadian transportation agencies must deal with emerging social and environmental changes, including climate change, and develop tools for urban, and more natural landscapes, including Northern Canadian road systems.”
The report was prepared with research compiled by WSP staff across Canada and written by: Dee Patriquin, Alex Zeller, Karen Truman, Rebecca Hay, and Sophie Gibbs.
For more information on how we can help with your road ecology needs, email Dee Patriquin and Alex Zeller.
To learn more about how we are helping companies with their biodiversity needs, visit our Biodiversity Hub.
Visit the Transportation Association of Canada’s Publications and Resources page for additional documents that will assist you with transportation planning.