What is a Wildlife Corridor?
Alternatively known as Green Corridors; Wildlife corridors are areas that act as a safe transition zone for migratory animals. At times, animals may even live and thrive in these habitats indefinitely. Over the next few sections of this article, we will learn what a wildlife corridor is, its various types, its benefits, users, and more.
Types of Wildlife Corridors
Wildlife corridors may be broadly classified into two types, namely: natural corridors and manmade corridors. In this section, we will learn about them in detail.
If a wildlife corridor is naturally established owing to specific geographical features like mountains and dense forests, they may be classified as a natural corridor. These corridors usually stretch for over 900 km, covering more than 50,000 km (in terms of total area).
The existing Riparian zones in our ecology are an excellent example of natural corridors. These zones offer ample vegetation and land and ensure a safer passage for species that move from one type of population to the next. Given the degree of protection they offer, these Riparian zones are deemed better natural corridors than a plain. Common examples of natural corridors include the Butterfly Riparian zones, the North American Flyways, and the iconic Pacific Ocean Corridors.
As you’ll probably guess from their name, man-made corridors are those wildlife corridors that have been established by humans for supporting and maintaining biodiversity. The most common man-made corridors are the over and underpasses that are created on roads. Other corridors include the hedgerows available in rural farmland and smaller gardens.
The primary purpose of these corridors is to ease the movement of wild species that have witnessed fragmentation in habitat because of urbanization or infrastructural improvements. The Banff Wildlife Bridges and Norway’s Bee Highway are some common examples of man-made corridors.
Various Users of Wildlife Corridors
The users of a wildlife corridor may be classified into two categories, namely: the dwellers and the passage users. The dwellers of a wildlife corridor might stay in the corridor for an indefinite time. This can range from a couple of days to many years. Amphibians, trees, reptiles, mammals, and insects are some of the common dwellers of a wildlife corridor.
Passage users, on the other hand, are the kind of species that temporarily stay in the corridor at the time of transit. While they primarily need these corridors during their migration, they might also need it while amid an extensive home range. Common passage users of wildlife corridors are small and large herbivores, medium-sized carnivores, and any other animal species that are migratory in nature.
A wildlife corridor needs to have everything the wildlife species will require for healthy survival. This includes proper soil for the process of germination and spacious holes for burrowing needs.
Importance of Wildlife Corridors
The benefits of wildlife corridors are manifold. In this section, we’ll find out more about them.
1. Safe Passage
The biggest highlight of wildlife corridors is the fact that it assists in preserving rare wildlife amid human society. It helps animals survive while also offering them safe passage during migrations. That is why, wildlife corridors are especially useful for migratory species like wolves, elks, bears, and others.
2. Promotes Genetic Diversity
Wildlife corridors offer the much-needed refuge to the animals living in areas that are heavily threatened by predators and other infiltrators. Additionally, they also promote genetic diversity among animals. When animals stay in a specific habitat extensively, they are inherently inclined to inbreeding. Over time, this prevents genetic disorders and makes these animals less susceptible to harmful ailments.
3. Prevents Fragmentation
Another major highlight of these corridors is the fact that they help to address the issue of fragmentation in habitats. This is especially important as the animals subjected to habitat fragmentation become more susceptible to natural calamities as well as predation.
4. Helps Plants Thrive
As with animals, wildlife corridors offer immense benefits to the various species of plants. They help plants grow and thrive in a healthy protected environment.
5. Prevents Animal-Vehicle Collisions
It is worth noting that habitat corridors are also beneficial to humans. When an underpass or overpass is created for wildlife, it immediately reduces the possibility of a vehicle collision with huge animals.
According to the State Farm Insurance of the USA, there have been millions of instances of deer collisions with a vehicle. The numbers have risen by at least 20 percent from the last few years.
These animal-vehicle accidents do not just hurt the vehicle owner and the animal, but it also shoots up the insurance and driver expenses.
Habitat corridors can prevent and almost eliminate this issue by creating a safe space for big and small animals.
6. Minimizes Human-Animal Interaction
These corridors are even known for the minimization of interactions between animals and humans. This is done by establishing a safe food hunting space for predatory animals like grizzly bears. As the interaction is limited, their threat among people is significantly reduced.
7. Prevents Wildlife Encroachment Amid Natural Calamities
Finally, wildlife corridors may also reduce the encroachment of wildlife in human-populated areas during the event of a wildfire or any similar natural calamity.
Concerns About Wildlife Corridors
One of the biggest concerns about wildlife corridors is the lack of proper funds for researching more about them. Several organizations discussing and pitching the benefits of wildlife corridors find it extremely difficult in getting proper responses. Since most people aren’t aware of these corridors, getting the required funds for building them is equally difficult. Over the next few sections, we will discuss the other vital concerns of wildlife corridors.
1. Wildlife corridors should be built for specific animal species. This will pave the way for better conservation of these species. Since several wildlife corridors are in proximity with bustling roads or places with a high human population, several species shy away from those zones. This issue needs to be taken into account.
2. Another chief concern about wildlife corridors is the fact that they might spike up the rates of predation. If a prey disperses through a corridor, it will serve as a perfect spot for the predator for taking advantage. That said, this concern isn’t substantiated by scientific proof. There hasn’t been any proper evidence about predation rates increasing due to the presence of corridors.
3. The corridors should also be extremely wide for maintaining the same impact of the wilderness. Sadly, lands like these aren’t widely available, and even when they are, they aren’t permitted to be used as wildlife corridors.
4. While creating a wildlife corridor, the responsible authorities should introduce similar habitat as the original homes of these species. Unless this measure is adopted, the corridor will appear unnatural to them.
5. Proper research should be conducted to know more about the migratory habits of animals. It is also important to research the overall advantages of wildlife corridors. This will help ascertain whether they are worth establishing in the first place. Additionally, the existing wildlife corridors should be properly maintained because they alone lay the foundation of the eventual conservation of local animals.
Organizations like the Florida Wildlife Corridor are already working on wildlife conservation through these corridors. The activities have time and again tried to raise proper awareness about planning and establishing these safe spaces.
As of now, they’ve successfully helped establish corridors across several parts of Florida. Over time, they are looking to come up with more campaigns to build wildlife corridors in Alabama, Georgie and other parts of the US.
Wildlife corridors serve as an excellent habitat spot for plants and animals across the globe. We need to take tangible measures to establish more such corridors for diverse species of flora and fauna.