The set-up of a green infrastructure – a functioning network of healthy ecosystems – is one of Europe’s main strategies to overcome the loss of biodiversity. To achieve this target in densely populated and intensively used European landscapes considerable investment into nature restoration and defragmentation are needed.
Especially crossways, where both, green and grey infrastructure meet and where suitable ecoducts must be connected to a surrounding high quality habitat network, play a most crucial role. At such places the installation of integrative and therefore mostly large wildlife under- and overpasses is meanwhile implemented in road planning all over Europe. Design settings for such buildings are developed and costs are known and well calculable. In most cases however an additional set-up of biological connectivity of the ecoducts to the wider landscape or to the “network of healthy ecosystems” respectively is mandatory too.
Other than building standards, standards for “hinterland connections” are missing and measures much more difficult to calculate and execute. Substantial experience about practical landscaping, needed supervision and cost management is rare.
In Schleswig-Holstein (Northern Germany) a project group is working on the practical implementation of hinterland connections of by now three different but on regional scale cross-linked ecoducts since 2008. Based on that we present the factors that play the most important role for the long-term preparation and safeguarding of a functioning reconnection of habitats in combination with ecoducts:
- Transfer of land property (how much land and money is needed?)
We present different constellations of landscape ownerships and their consequence and discuss, if a high proportion of public land simplifies ecological hinterland connection. We present, how much money we spent for land purchase and the great variety of (European) funds that could be used
- Nature restoration (what must be done in an intensively used cultural landscape?)
Costs depend on the quality, shape and location of existing habitats and target habitats. In wilderness areas, where only minor degradation of ecosystems took place, restoration costs should be low, but in the average Central European landscape, only few and mostly small areas with “healthy ecosystems” are left, so nature restoration for functioning ecological networks is highly demanding and costs tend to be unpredictable. We present, what was needed in our example, how much it was and where the funds were raised.
- Safeguarding of long-term responsibility
Responsibility for the function of ecoducts is regularly with the transport administration, while there is no clear decision about the responsibility for the function of the ecological hinterland connection. There is a need for a precise regulation about long-term responsibility, guidance and funding as well as for adequate development and management plans.
- Mediation and management
The most crucial factor in implementing ecological corridors as hinterland connection however is the availability of a contact person and motivator and the coordination of possible funds and nature protection concerns as well.
hinterland connection, habitat corridor, ecoduct, fauna passage, reconnection, defragmentation