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Road ecology: a look behind the book and the field


The field of road ecology, slowly emerging over two decades, offers great promise to transportation, nature and society, and a recent book, Road Ecology: Science and Solutions, should help catalyze the field. The objective of this article is to provide additional insight into the book by highlighting its process of development, and pinpoint some underlying bases for expecting the field to accelerate. The book evolved from: recurrent environmental problems; early international work; and TRB and ICOET initiatives. Fourteen co-authors from academia and government, including two spearheaders, four transportation experts, one hydrologist, nine ecologists, and a supporting cast of forty from the transportation and environmental communities created the book. Several broad challenges required solutions: present the best possible science; reveal an array of useful applications; avoid drowning in detail; and mesh authors to complete the book in two years. Also key specific decisions molded the book: title, publisher, sponsors, and royalties; focus on USA, Canada, and mainstream road network; peer-reviewed literature, and no specific solutions recommended; several topics with minimal, and with ample, coverage; and the nature of the final chapter. Since publication, salutary evidence indicates that the book is reaching: the transportation and environmental communities; educated public and conservation organizations; and decision-makers. Several trends in addition to the book seem to be catalyzing the field of road ecology. Rapid growth in research and the development of useful applications is evident, and important promising opportunities now lie on the palette of the diverse specialists. The conceptual objective of the field for society appears to be safe and efficient mobility meshed with natural processes and biodiversity. Thus the area along and adjoining the entire road network should significantly improve ecologically, while also strengthening the network of ecological flows and large green areas across the land.

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