Implementing measures to avoid wildlifevehicle collisions and other environmental impacts in an old road inside a State Park in Brazil

Nequinho Fogaça Road (SP-139), managed by the State Government, was built in 1942. Linking state and federal highways, it enables connection between coast and inland of São Paulo State, in a region that still preserves considerable amount of native forest remnants.  The main characteristic of this unpaved two-lane road is to cross the Carlos Botelho State Park for about 33 kilometers.

This park was established in 1982 in an area of 376 km², mostly occupied by Atlantic Forest.  It has a high species richness and a high endemism level, as well as threatened and endangered species as southern-muriqui (Brachyteles arachoides), brown howler monkeys (Alouatta clamitans), vinegar-dog (Speothos venaticus), jaguar (Panthera onca), puma (Puma concolor), oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus) and tapir (Tapirus terrestris).

In 2011, the paving and drainage project of the road was submitted to the São Paulo Environmental Agency (CETESB) for approval via an environmental impact assessment.  In addition, this project was analyzed by a working group composed of members from the park, CETESB, Environmental State Secretariat, Transportation State Department and those responsible for the project.

The purpose of the project was to improve Park visitation, State patrolling and traffic conditions. However, these improvements could result in a higher probability of wildlife-vehicles collision, due to an expected increase in traffic intensity and speed.

Considering SP-139 route transverses steep slopes, with sharp turns and forest adjacent to the track, locational or structural changes were rejected, since they could entail in deforestation and fragmentation, besides being expensive. Furthermore, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) concluded that all road segment could be considered a hotspot to roadkill, since data indicated that animals cross the road at any point. In fact, it was observed that some species, like tapir, use SP-139 as a path, rather than just cross it.

In this sense, mitigation measures put in place to prevent roadkill in SP-139, after paving, involved reduction of speed limit to 40km/h, 16 rope bridge overpasses, warning signs, programs of public orientation and education and temporary road closure in the evenings, from 8.00pm to 6.00am.  Others measures, that it will be implemented in the next six months, include ten speed cameras and 15 speed bumps. In spite of the importance of all mitigation measures to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, the most important one was temporary road closure.  This is evidenced in the fact that most animals are more active at night, including threatened species and large and medium size mammals, and also because visibility conditions are hampered by vegetation, lack of lightning and fog.

Evaluation of mitigation measures will be based on the results of both roadkills and overpasses monitoring programs, which will also signal the need for additional measures.  After two months of operation, public acceptance has been positive and Park visitation has increased.

We believe that the creation of a forum for discussions (working group) as well as the articulation of different stakeholders were essential to implement concrete actions and measures to mitigate impacts on road SP-139, with special regard to temporary road closure.

wildlife-vehicle collisions, State Park, mitigation measures, temporary road closure