Clearing the way for Europe's wild animals

Howling wolf
© Gernot Pohl

Ecological criteria should be considered without fail when expanding European transport networks, demand nature conservation experts.

Press Release from April 6, 2009

Radolfzell: Especially Europe's bears, wolves and lynx are threatened by the fragmentation of their habitats. In view of the rapid expansion of road and rail networks, above all in Central and Southeast Europe, this situation becomes more and more precarious. How can the fatal impact on big mammals by building ever more transport networks be contained or even avoided? On occasion of an expert meeting in the Croatian National Park of Risnjak scheduled for April 1-4 2009, partner organisations of the international project "Trans-European Wildlife Networks", coordinated by EuroNatur, have defined clear requirements.

Large predators and their prey constantly run the risk of being run over when crossing streets or railway lines. But what is even worse, many of these obstacles are impassable for them. Wildlife populations are fragmented and split up into small fractions, which in the long run makes their survival impossible.  The central demand of the experts is to avoid the fragmentation of valuable wildlife habitat in advance, i.e. when planning or expanding transport networks. "The best thing is to give animal corridors a wide berth when planning new streets and railroad lines", claims Gabriel Schwaderer, director of EuroNatur. Where this is not practicable, the risk of damage for bears, wolves, lynx and their prey should be kept as low as possible by planning wildlife crossing facilities.  A close cooperation between road planners and nature conservation experts as well as a detailed appraisal of the natural environment of the areas concerned is a must.
"Setting up protected areas alone is not enough. Intact wildlife corridors are essential for the protection of Europe's big mammals. Traffic planning must urgently be steered and adapted to the needs of wolves, bears, lynx and their prey", says Schwaderer.

Background Information:
The project "Trans-European Wildlife Networks", which started in August 2008, is promoted by EuroNatur, the "Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt" (German Federal Foundation of Environment) and the "Zoologische Gesellschaft Frankfurt" (Frankfurt Zoological Society), with the aim to counteract the fragmentation of hitherto intact landscapes in Europe and especially on the Balkan Peninsula.

Project partners: EuroNatur (D), Frankfurt Zoological Society (D), Institute for Landscape Management of the Albert-Ludwig University (D), Association for Bird and Nature, Association for Bird and Nature Protection “Milvus” (RO), Association for Nature “Wolf” (PL), Balkani Wildlife Society (BG), Biology Department, Veterinary Faculty, University of Zagreb (HR), Carpathian Wildlife Society (SK), Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Science (PL)

For further inquiries please contact:
Konstanzer Straße 22
78315 Radolfzell
Phone: +49 (0)7732 - 92 72 0
Fax: +49 (0) 07732 - 92 72 22
Contact: Gabriel Schwaderer

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