A global map of the ecological value of roadless areas. The index values indicated in blue highlight areas that are especially large and well connected and/or notably rich in biodiversity. The red areas are completely roaded: covered by roads and 1km buffers alongside either sides of the road. Photograph: P Ibisch et al/Science
New map reveals shattering effect of roads on nature
“Rampant road building has shattered the Earth’s land into 600,000 fragments, most of which are too tiny to support significant wildlife, a new study has revealed.
The researchers warn roadless areas are disappearing and that urgent action is needed to protect these last wildernesses, which help provide vital natural services to humanity such as clean water and air.
The impact of roads extends far beyond the roads themselves, the scientists said, by enabling forest destruction, pollution, the splintering of animal populations and the introduction of deadly pests. New roads also pave the way to further exploitation by humans, such as poaching or mining, and new infrastructure….
The natural world is in the midst of a mass extinction as wild places are destroyed by conversion to farmland, mining and pollution, and animals are hunted in huge numbers. In October, a major analysis found the number of wild creatures was on track to fall by two-thirds by 2020, compared to 1970.
Roads are the catalyst for much of the destruction by, for example, giving illegal loggers access into the Amazon or poachers access to wild animals.”