Roads free of wilderness

A recent article in New York Times (April 12, 2015) calls the attention to the different view of economists and ecologists on roads. While roads are seen as important tool to economic growth, they often open a Pandora’s box of environmental evils.

There are many examples, which proves that human infrastructures open up the opportunity for misusing and abusing our natural resources. The article in New York Times lists two important examples of roads leading to environmental destructions:

95 % of all forest destruction occurs within five kilometers of a road in the Amazon region. The BR-163 highway that cuts deep into the heart of the Amazon is visible at night — even from the Moon — as a thousand-kilometer-long slash of forest fires. This is why our European Wilderness Quality Standard considers light and noise polutions as important indicators of wilderness character!

Opening up tropical forests in the Congo Basin had largely contributed to gunning down two-thirds of all forest elephants in the last decade. A road-building spree by industrial loggers has inadvertently promoted a massive influx of poachers and an epic slaughter of forest elephants, killed for their valuable ivory tusks. So wildlife also needs wilderness free of roads.

Taking the above into account, our Society wants to highlight an important initiative entitled Roadless Area Initiative. The Society for Conservation Biology launched the  Roadless Areas Initiative, which “represents an innovative complementary approach to the traditional mitigation and compensation measures in road ecology. One of the new aspects is the No-Net-Loss of unfragmented lands. Additionally, it combines conceptual considerations, including ecological theory and conservation policies, with practical aspects and methodology developed to identify areas free of road disturbance.”

In short: in order to preserve wilderness for future generations, we must keep our wilderness land free from roads.

Vlado Vancura

Vlado Vancura is the Deputy Chairman and Director of wilderness of the European Wilderness Society and is based in Liptovsky Hradok, Slovakia.

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One thought on “Roads free of wilderness

  1. Great post and an interesting article. Thank you for pointing it out. I took a deep look at roads and their very damaging impacts in my book “Notes for the Aurora Society”. More recent research only confirms the older work. Roads are very damaging to soil, water, ecosystems and biodiversity.

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