Ecology and Transportation: Trends and Challenges and Opportunities
Paul J. Wagner
Chair, International Conference on Ecology and Transportation (ICOET)
Branch Manager, Environmental Services Office
Washington State Department of Transportation
PO Box 7331
Olympia, Washington 98504-7331
Awareness of how transportation systems can affect the natural environment has evolved from the primary focus on animal-vehicle collisions toward more systemic thinking and more coordinated solutions aimed at promoting transportation that is not only safe, but also ecologically sound. A growing community of people, concerned with these matters, is bringing new partnerships, perspectives and resources to bear. Success in this undertaking involves factors in three broad categories:
1) Technical factors which address the effects of roads and transportation systems on organisms, ecosystems and ecological processes, as well as measures that can be implemented to minimize effects. Current trends include: increased attention to multi species approaches; integration of aquatic and terrestrial approaches; more detailed evaluation of crossing structure effectiveness; and landscape scale planning for ecological connectivity.
2) Process factors which address how ecological considerations can be integrated into the processes transportation planning, construction and operation. Current trends here include: expanded institutional frameworks for project coordination; expanded public involvement; initiatives for sustainability as well as climate change adaptation strategies.
3) Catalyzing factors which help build and maintain momentum, affect change, new thinking, and new solutions and partnerships Current trends here include: Increased public interest in road ecology issues; policy direction from government and other organizations; increased academic research focus; and coordinated research strategies.
This discussion provides an overview of the current trends, as well as challenges and opportunities for these factors of Road Ecology in North America.