Study says road threat to carnivores is underestimated globally

GR: Roads are an element of widespread human construction that destroys habitat and causes wildlife decline. As reported here, roads have other serious ecosystem impacts. They cause selective deaths of the regulators of food chains, the top carnivores.

While the Iberian lynx is IUCN-classified as “endangered”, other species threatened by roads are not. For example, two species in Japan: According to the projection, the Japanese badger (Meles anakuma) and the Japanese marten (Martes melampus) will have died out in nine and 17 years, respectively, because of the threat from roads.

“The threat of roads to carnivore species around the world has been seriously underestimated, according to a new study that looked at the issue on a global scale.

“After looking at 232 carnivore species around the world (out of a total of about. 270 existing species) and assessing how severely these are affected by roads cut through their habitat, the researchers concluded that some rare species are even at risk in areas with low road densities. The study, published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography, calculated natural mortality rates, reproduction and carnivore movement patterns, determining the maximum density of roads that a species can cope with.

“The study also tried to pinpoint the minimum area of unbroken habitat that a species needs to maintain an enduring healthy population. Finally, they compared these numbers with road network data.

“Among the 5 percent of carnivores (17 species) that are most affected by roads, nine are currently categorized as species of “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which means that they are regarded as not endangered.

“Our results show the necessity of updating the protection status of these species, whose threat from roads has previously been underestimated,” said Henrique Pereira, with the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and the Portugal Infrastructures Biodiversity Chair/Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources (CIBIO-InBIO). –Summit County Citizens Voice (More:  Study says road threat to carnivores is underestimated globally – Summit County Citizens Voice.)

New map reveals concentrations of nature-disrupting roads

GR:  Roads block wildlife corridors, open areas to pathogens and invasive species, and increase human disruptions to the lives of wildlife. Related blog posts.

“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 length of the world’s roads is projected to increase by more than 60% by 2050, say researchers, but only 5% of roadless areas have any legal protection. Photograph: Patrick T. Fallon/Getty Images

“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.

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

“An international team of researchers analysed open-access maps of 36m km of road and found that over half of the 600,000 fragments of land in between roads are very small – less than 1km2.” –Damian Carrington (More:  New map reveals shattering effect of roads on nature)

Obama Kicks Off Trump’s Dirty Energy Agenda by Moving to Open Colorado Roadless Forest to Climate-destroying Coal

GR:  Obama tries again to help out the fossil-fuel industry.  This time he’s working for coal.  It is unlikely that he believes this will benefit anyone except the coal company. Maybe he is hoping an energy corp will give him a cushy job when he leaves DC.

Roadless Rule Loophole Could Cause Vast Carbon Pollution, Undermine Obama Administration Climate Goals

DENVER, Colo.— “A U.S. Forest Service plan released today proposes to reopen a gaping loophole in the Colorado Roadless Rule that would allow Arch Coal to expand coal mining across about 20,000 acres of pristine, high-country forest and crucial wildlife habitat in western Colorado. Tens of thousands of people have urged the Obama administration to abandon the plan because of its threats to the climate and public lands.

Mount Gunnison, Sunset Roadless Area. Photo by Ted Zukoski.Photos are available for media use.

“If enacted, the decision would result in the mining of 172 million tons of coal over 17 years and at least 443 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Opening pristine backcountry for coal mining in the face of a global climate crisis is dangerously backward public policy,” said Taylor McKinnon with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Instead of setting the table for Trump’s dirty energy agenda, Obama should nix this plan on his way out the door.”

“Today’s environmental analysis is the latest in a long series of decisions affecting coal mining in the West Elks. Originally protected from tree-cutting and road-building by the Forest Service’s 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, the Sunset Trail and Pilot Knob roadless areas again came under threat from mining in 2012 when the Forest Service approved a Colorado-specific roadless rule allowing new coal mine methane drainage pads in the area.

“The loophole was thrown out by the U.S. District Court of Colorado in 2014 because the Forest Service failed to consider the climate change impacts of millions of tons of federal coal, which could result in more than half a billion tons of carbon pollution from mining and burning the coal.

“The Sunset Trail and Pilot Knob roadless areas threatened by new methane drainage pads for expansion of Arch Coal’s West Elk Mine are home to spectacular aspen groves and mountain vistas, black bears, beaver ponds, rare and sensitive amphibians and watersheds supporting endangered native fish.

“Today’s announcement flies in the face of the United States’ commitment in the Paris Climate Accord to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Recent studies have shown that the greenhouse gas pollution that would result from developing fossil fuels beyond those already under production is incompatible with that goal.”  Source: Obama Kicks Off Trump’s Dirty Energy Agenda by Moving to Open Colorado Roadless Forest to Climate-destroying Coal

Mike Baird’s war on trees is threatening our biodiversity

“Not satisfied with these local assaults on trees, the NSW government is moving to declare wholesale war on the entire state. It is intent on abolishing the Native Vegetation Act, passed by Parliament in 2003 to stop broadscale land clearing. It will be replaced by a so-called Biodiversity Conservation Act that will apply many of the current tree destruction tools in the government’s armoury to the city and the country.

“Offsets are the new mantra and the weak “major projects offsets policy” will become the rule. This states that if you can’t find a “like for like” offset (inevitable in urban areas), then almost anything else will do, including developer payments to a fund or rehabilitating a mine site (when this should be entirely the responsibility of the mine owner). It’s a sure recipe for the extinction of more endangered habitat. The Native Vegetation Act, which has saved hundreds of thousands of hectares from the bulldozer and chainsaw, had scientifically based rules about what should be protected (red lights) or offset with integrity. But no more under this new legislation – you can buy your way out.”  www.smh.com.au

GR:  Sydney’s governmental war on trees is not unusual. Road and transmission corridor builders often appear to have less respect for nature than other government agencies.