The Handbook of Road Ecology is like no-other book on the ecology of roads you have seen or used. Rather than attempt to re-explain our rationale, objectives and approach here, we have simply copied the salient aspects directly from the Preface to the handbook, which we think summarises it quite well!
“This book brings together some of the leading researchers, academics, practitioners and transportation
agency personnel from around the world to focus on the challenge of improving the ecological sustainability of the linear infrastructure – primarily road, rail and utility easements – that dissects and fragments most landscapes around the world. Where possible, we aimed to have co‐authors from different continents on every chapter – and indeed, many authors are collaborating together for the first time on this book.
When authors were invited to contribute, we gave them this initial challenge: ‘Imagine you are in charge
of your professional world for a day, and could change anything to improve the ecological sustainability of roads (or other linear infrastructure) and traffic: what six to eight things would you change or want people to learn and/or do differently?’ Conversely, a second challenge posed to the authors was slightly more pessimistic: ‘Identify the six to eight mistakes that you regularly see or experience in your area of practise and write about those and how to avoid them’. This approach appeared to stimulate our authors and provided a tangible grounding for their writing – but the real challenge came when we tried to impose an average word limit for each chapter of 3000 words! In hindsight, the word limit was probably too restrictive for some topics, but it forced authors to be concise and succinct – which we hope you, the reader, appreciate!
Chapters are written as a series of lessons, insights or principles that forced authors to be very specific about their key points, allowing you to quickly identify the pertinent information to help you in your day to day tasks. We realised that time is precious – and for most of you – time is money (yours or your boss!) and we have designed the book so you can quickly and efficiently find the answers to your questions and get back to the planning, designing, building, maintaining or granting approvals to build roads or other transportation infrastructure. And in the likely event that this book does not answer all
your questions, the further readings and up‐to‐date reference lists for each chapter should point you to the extra information you need.
The chapters span the project continuum – starting with planning and design, through construction and into maintenance and management. Research and monitoring is such an important aspect that it sits like an umbrella, encompassing all phases of a transportation project. Rigorous monitoring and evaluation of
the impacts of a road or effectiveness of mitigation often requires the collection of data before the road or mitigation is built – hence the chapters on monitoring, evaluation and maintenance come before the impacts and mitigation are described. A significant proportion of the book focuses on impacts and solutions for species groups and specific regions. The rate of major road construction in the United States, Australia and Western Europe has slowed, while developing countries are expanding their road and rail networks at an incredibly rapid rate. This book highlights some of the unique regional challenges with case studies from Asia, South America and Africa.
Chapters are designed to be stand‐alone – you do not need to read the book from cover to cover, or even from front to back, to be able to use its contents. We envisage that readers will come to our book when facing a challenge – or rather an opportunity – and they can dive into the relevant chapter to improve their understanding of the major problems and the array of current possible solutions. Nevertheless, we have endeavoured to ensure that chapters build upon and complement each other – so reading (or even skimming) it from cover to cover won’t be a waste of time. Extensive cross‐referencing among chapters directs the reader to relevant material elsewhere in the book.
We should point out what this book is not: It is not a series of standards for the design of roads or mitigation measures. These standards and guidelines already exist in many countries, states or regions and we did not want to repeat them here. If they don’t exist in your region, there are enough around to borrow from in order to develop your own. And because the optimal design and placement of, for example, crossing structures, fences or wildlife detection systems should evolve as our understanding and technology improves, such specific information would be quickly out of date. All the authors in this book have strived to identify the greatest challenges and opportunities and write about them in a way that is timeless.
Our sincere hope is that this book improves the way roads and other linear infrastructure are planned,
designed, approved, built, maintained and studied.
Rodney van der Ree
Daniel J. Smith