Over the last decade, India’s economy has been growing at a fairly high rate and is projected to grow at even higher rates. This creates a steep demand for linear infrastructure such as roads, railways, power lines and canals, which is an integral part of economic growth. The rapid development of linear infrastructure needs little forest land but has a disproportionately large negative impact in the form of breakages in wildlife corridors, habitat fragmentation, and wildlife vehicle mortality (roadkills). To provide solutions for this rapid scale of development is beyond the scope of a single organisation and is compounded by the lack of adequate data and capacity among regulatory agencies. Unfortunately, the science of road ecology, which can help mitigate negative impacts of linear infrastructure is in its infancy in India.
WCT’s uses a 3-pronged approach to help achieve a win-win solution for both natural eco-systems and development.
- Road Ecology Surveys: WCT conducts road ecology studies on roads which are proposed for expansion to understand the hotspots of roadkills and help identify suitable locations for introducing mitigation structures so that road planners can factor these costs at the time of inception of the project. WCT has worked on several roads such as the NH-44, NH-47, NH-69, NH-6 and railway lines such as the Delhi-Nagpur line passing through Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Addressing gaps in existing policy: WCT maintains a database of proposed roads and railways which are planned for upgradation/development over the next few years. The proposed alignments of these roads and railways are mapped using GIS techniques over the wildlife corridors of the area to identify areas that are likely to get fragmented. These maps are then provided as policy inputs to the regulatory authorities so that they can plan mitigation measures proactively.
- Building capacity in the field of road ecology: WCT collaborates with leading experts in the field of road ecology to conduct training workshops which focus on the science and policy aspects of road ecology. WCT invites practitioners from regulatory agencies such as the NTCA, State Forest Departments, NGOs, wildlife scientists, and infrastructure development agencies not only from India but also from other South Asian tiger range countries such as Nepal and Bhutan for capacity building workshops.