Image Credit: Diego Varela
May 17, 2022
What are ecoducts?
Ecoducts, also known as overpasses or green bridges, are large structures, equipped with natural vegetation, designed for the passage of animals over roads or railways. This green infrastructure aims to maintain the structural and ecological connectivity of natural landscapes, facilitating the safe movement of species through road and rail networks, and reducing the risk of mortality due to being run over.
As they are large-scale vegetated structures, they are ideal for mitigating the impact of road fragmentation on populations of large mammals and for species that do not use underpasses or culverts. Furthermore, by allowing the growth of natural vegetation, these passes are used by a great diversity of species and functional groups, from invertebrates to large mammals, including birds, bats, and plant propagules.
Did you know that there are ecoducts in Latin America?
THE FIRST IN ARGENTINA
Ecoducts are expensive and complex environmental mitigation works, and for many years they were only known for North America, Europe and Australia. However, in 2008, the first ecoduct in Latin America was built in Argentina. This 40 meter wide structure is located on National Route 101 (RN -101) in the province of Misiones, very close to the border with Brazil. It is located in the Alto Paraná Atlantic Forest, an ecoregion of high global importance for the conservation of biodiversity within the Atlantic Forest biome. The site where it was located is part of the biological corridor that connects the provincial parks Urugua-í (84,000 ha) and Horacio Foerster (5,000 ha) through a mosaic of small public and private protected areas where the native forest is being restored and a rapid recovery of wildlife populations is observed.
For 10 years, the RN-101 ecoduct has been monitored with camera traps. These studies are showing that at least 18 species of medium and large mammals use the ecoduct, and the number of species and frequency of crossings has been increasing as the years go by and as the natural vegetation cover of the structure becomes denser and more diverse.