After I-75 was built in northern Michigan, deer roadkill increased by 500%!
An important part to an ecosystem’s bio-diversity is its size and how it connects to the land around it. Highways can be one of the largest inhibitors an ecosystem’s bio-diversity. Often, a highway may run through an ecosystem, essentially splitting it into two pieces. This can cause severe injury to both people and animals, when the species stranded on one side needs to migrate to the other. Civil engineers realize how damaging this can be to an ecosystem, as well as, the safety of humans traveling along these highways. NASA even recognizes the importance of protecting wildlife even in the trajectory of their launches, demonstrated by their John F. Kennedy Roadkill Prevention Program.
Recently, civil engineers have made distinct efforts to lessen the strain these highways cause on the environment. For example, bridges can be covered in grasses, bushes, trees and other natural foliage to match the surrounding highways, which offers protection to many smaller animals.
These efforts have led us to some amazing innovations like the “Green Bridge”! Not only are these types of bridges, also, made from eco-friendly materials, but they enhance the migration of all living organisms. For example, birds, insects, and larger animals are able to cross highways safely. Projects like the “Green Bridge”, with adequate warning signs, do not enhance the risk of causing accidents. There are currently over 50 of these bridges today, and each one of them has successfully protected wildlife and reduced accidents. Currently, the majority of these bridges are in Europe and North America because of their woodsy landscapes.