TRANSGREEN Guidelines

Wildlife and Traffic in the Carpathians

Guidelines on how to minimise the impact of transport infrastructure development on nature in the Carpathian countries

The Carpathians is an area with an exceptionally well-preserved landscape and unique nature within Europe. However, this area is threatened by the expansion of the transportation infrastructure network, which is gradually fragmenting the landscape. Large carnivores living in this area, known for their large migration distances, may be disturbed or even threatened by these changes.

The document “Wildlife and Traffic in the Carpathians – Guidelines on how to minimise the impact of transport infrastructure development on nature in the Carpathian countries” aims to fulfil the goals of the Carpathian Convention Protocol on Sustainable Transport in the Carpathians, based on the European COST 341 Handbook (Wildlife and Traffic) on how to avoid Habitat Fragmentation due to Linear Transportation Infrastructure. The report is presented below, divided into chapters and as PowerPoint guiding presentations, providing an easy way to understand the main issues of the project.

Introduction

Introduction

The "Wildlife and Traffic in the Carpathians - Guidelines on how to minise the impact of transport infrastructure development on nature in the Carpathian countries" is one of the main outputs of the TRANSGREEN project. The guidelines are, in general, aimed to support finding solutions to minimise negative impacts of transport infrastructure development on wildlife in the Carpathians and are recommended to be used in combination with other TRANSGREEN outputs:

                        • Policy recommendations on integrated road and rail transportation planning in the Carpathians;
                        • State of the Art Report and Gap Analysis in the field of environmentally friendly transport infrastructure development;
                        • Keeping Nature Connected: Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Integrated Infrastructure Planning – Training package;
                        • Scheme for stakeholder participation related to transport infrastructure development; and
                        • Tool for registering animal-vehicle collisions.

The Guidelines can be used at all levels of sustainable linear transport infrastructure development — from the initial planning and design, through the construction, to the operation and maintenance. This initiative represents a particular step towards fulfilling the goals of the Carpathian Convention Protocol on Sustainable Transport in the Carpathians. It is based on the European COST 341 Handbook (Wildlife and Traffic) on how to avoid Habitat Fragmentation due to Linear Transportation Infrastructure and other guidelines and handbooks with special focus and adaptation meant to support ecological connectivity in the Carpathians.

Development of transportation brings extensive impacts on nature and landscape. Most visible is undoubtedly animal mortality in collisions with vehicles. Motorways and other intensively used arterial roads and major railways create impassable barriers for animals. Such barriers then separate originally continuous distribution areas into smaller and mutually isolated islands that are no longer able to ensure conditions for long-term survival of populations. This process, called fragmentation of the environment, is thus becoming a more and more a serious threat.

Migration makes it possible to compensate for fluctuations in numbers caused by a temporary worsening of habitat, epidemics, and natural disasters or by anthropogenic impacts. The Carpathians are an area with exceptionally well-preserved landscape and unique nature within Europe.

Basic Terms

Basic Terms

In the following presentation, you can get acquainted with the basic terms and their corresponding characteristics — found throughout the guidelines.

Chapter II

Particularities of the Carpathians

The Carpathian Mountains, or the Carpathians, form roughly a 1,500 kilometres-long arc across Central and Eastern Europe. They cover an area of about 209,000 km2 and stretch through the territories of eight countries (from west to east and south- east.). The region is most commonly divided into three main geographic areas/divisions (see table).

This chapter looks in depth about the:

                        • Different regions of the Carpathians
                        • How the Carpathian Mountains were formed
                        • The conditions in the Carpathians (temperature and rainfall)
                        • The different zones of vegetation and the habitat types
                        • The road and rail systems through the Carpathians
                        • The settlements in the Carpathians

Chapter IV

Legislative Aspects

Nature and biodiversity in the Carpathians are protected through several directives, strategies and conventions at the EU level, which have to be taken into account when transport infrastructure is being planned, designed, constructed and operational. Alongside this, there is transportation legislation that promotes efficient and environmentally friendly mobility along roads.

There is also the EUs international legislation on nature and landscape conservation which aims primarily at protecting selected species and habitats of European interest.

However, there is also national level legislation in each of the Carpathian countries, which also regulates projects.

The details of the strategies and legislation can be found in this chapter.

Chapter VI

Connectivity of Different Types of Habitats

When planning new transport infrastructure, it is necessary to ensure connectivity of populations of all species typical of a given habitat and for transient species. Three main questions have to be addressed:

                        • What kind of fauna passages (with what kind of parameters) to build?
                        • What should be the density and placement of such fauna passages?
                        • How should the fauna passages be integrated into the landscape in order to ensure their functionality?

In order to reach sufficient permeability of transport infrastructure, the first step is to verify the possibility repurposing existing bridges and culverts as faunal passages. The next step is to set the recommended mutual distance between fauna passages. See table 3 in the executive summary for details.

Chapter VIII

Ecological Compensation

Ecological compensation may be defined as creating, restoring or enhancing nature qualities in order to counterbalance ecological damage caused by infrastructure developments. Regarding transport infrastructure, ecological compensation is generally undertaken outside a given road, which in many cases leads to complications with regard to ownership of surrounding land. The chapter covers the five types of compensation measure available:

                        • habitat creation
                        • habitat enhancement
                        • in-kind/out-of-kind compensation
                        • measures linked to fauna passages
                        • translocation

Users’ Guide

Users' Guide

These guidelines are one of the main outputs of the TRANSGREEN project. They are generally aimed at minimizing negative impacts of transport infrastructure development on wildlife in the Carpathian mountain range system and are recommended to be used in combination with other TRANSGREEN outputs.

The Guidelines are written mainly for the following groups of users:

                        • Transport infrastructure planners and designers.
                        • Environmental impact assessment specialists.
                        • Authorities responsible for decisions regarding authorizations for transport constructions at all levels – coming from both the transport and environmental sectors.
                        • Transport infrastructure building contractors.
                        • Transport infrastructure operators.
                        • Biologists and ecologist involved in monitoring the impacts of transport on wildlife.
Chapter I

Effects of Transport Infrastructure on Nature

The guidelines outlined in the introduction are primarily focused on motorways, roads and railways, but can also be applied to inland waterways, such as artificial canals. The effects of transport infrastructure on nature are typically divided into two groups: primary (directly bound to the construction and further operation of a given piece of infrastructure) and secondary (effects that do not directly fall into the transport sector but are likely induced by it).

 

Chapter III

Biota and ecological connectivity: demands of different groups of fauna on infrastructure permeability

Building new transport infrastructure threatens different habitats and species to different degrees and, as a result, measures aimed at reducing negative impacts of transportation on these habitats and species will have to vary. However, it is possible to find species that generally represent a wider group with similar requirements (i.e. an umbrella species).

Details on the ability of the following groups to disperse and move can be found in detail in the guidelines:

                        • Terrestrial invertebrates
                        • Fishes and other aquatic animals
                        • Amphibians
                        • Reptiles
                        • Birds
                        • Terrestrial mammals up to the size of fox and badger
                        • Otter and semiaquatic animals
                        • Arboreal Mammals
                        • Bats
                        • Medium sized mammals
                        • Large mammals

 

Chapter V

The phases of linear transport infrastructure planning and recommended implementations of environmental measures

Planning and preparation of transport infrastructure is a long-term process. Each new construction of transport infrastructure goes through several phases:

 

 

Many of these processes are written in international legislation and are performed as mandatory in all Carpathian countries. This chapter looks at the purpose of this legalisation in the implementation of environmental measure when planning transport infrastructure. In addition, nine specific tools are described (see Table 6 in the executive summary) for the individual preparation phases so that fragmentation of habitats is minimised throughout all the phases of a project.

Chapter VII

Fauna passes and other technical solutions

Classification of measures to reduce the barrier effect and animal mortality. Measures to reduce barrier effect and animal mortality can be in general divided into several groups (see Figure 5):

The guidelines outline five general principles that should form the basis for proposing measures to reduce barrier effect of roads, motorways and railways and should be applied to specific local conditions.

The rest of the chapter explores:

  • the most frequently used infrastructure components (such as bridges and overpasses, and culverts and passages);
  • the best designs that minimise the impacts of transport infrastructure on wildlife;
  • the conditions that specific groups of fauna need for the infrastructure to be effective; and
  • the warning systems that can be used on rods to reduce animal mortality.