Ecological impact assessment of existing and proposed road infrastructure in important wildlife corridors in India for strategic planning of smart green infrastructure.
Among the greatest threats to natural habitats and wildlife today is fragmentation by linear infrastructure, foremost among which are roads. As India aims to make the fruits of development accessible to all its citizens in the race to become a super-economy, the growth in the road network is imminent. This fast-paced expansion of the road network has thus necessitated the study of its impacts on wildlife communities so as to delineate no-go zones and inform mitigation planning for road development to achieve long term conservation.
Roads are the most ubiquitous forms of human disturbance in natural areas, and the construction of roads and the subsequent onset of vehicular traffic pose multiple deleterious effects on nature, foremost and most recognisable among which is roadkill. The physical road structure and constantly moving traffic together create a barrier to movement of animals across these structures. In addition to the risk of local extinction of certain species, roadkill and barrier effect affect the movement of wide-ranging species and that of large herbivores leading to isolation of populations. The effects of roads and their emissions are not limited to their physical extent but pervade up to 15-20% of the surrounding landscape
We intend to study these impacts on wildlife in the central Indian landscape, which has been recognised to have a high potential for long-term conservation of tiger, its habitat and associated species. The major focus of our study is to evaluate the effect of this disturbance on space use by different large mammal species, their behaviour and the connectivity of the landscape for large mammals.
Funding Agency: National Tiger Conservation Authority
Researcher: Akanksha Saxena