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A spatial ecological assessment of fragmentation and disturbance effects of the Swedish road network
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering, Land and Water Resources Engineering. (Environmental Management and Assessment Research Group)
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering, Land and Water Resources Engineering. (Environmental Management and Assessment Research Group)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1640-8946
2015 (English)In: Landscape and Urban Planning, ISSN 0169-2046, E-ISSN 1872-6062, Vol. 134, 53-65 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Transportation infrastructure has a wide range of effects on ecological processes, which result in both positive and negative impacts for biodiversity. However, the treatment of biodiversity in planning and environmental assessment have been criticized, especially regarding habitat loss and fragmentation effects, the low use of quantitative methods and that of assessments being descriptive rather than analytical and predictive. The aim of this study was to assess the impacts of the Swedish road network by spatial modelling of road effects, to explore potential impacts of fragmentation and disturbance effects of roads on habitat networks for selected ecological profiles, and to discuss the utility of applying quantitative methods for environmental assessment purposes. Habitat and landcover data was used for creating habitat networks for six ecological profiles. Fragmentation and disturbance effects were modelled in GIS and FRAGSTATS was used to quantify ecologically important landscape metrics on habitat amount and connectivity. The results showed that natural grasslands and southern broadleaved forest were substantially more exposed to road effects in Sweden, compared to old coniferous and trivial broadleaved forest. Furthermore, habitat loss was a main consequence of road effects, and forest species with high area demands were most prone to be adversely impacted. Suggestions on method development in order to increase the quality of the analysis methods for environmental assessment are discussed. The potential is seen as high for use of quantitative ecological methods to generate baseline environmental information as well as coarse predictions on likely consequences of development options, useful for environmental assessment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 134, 53-65 p.
Keyword [en]
Transport infrastructure, Road ecology, Biodiversity, Ecological profiles, Environmental assessment, Road effect zones
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-123565DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.10.009ISI: 000347511400006Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84908701351OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-123565DiVA: diva2:627690
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 242-2009-1285StandUp
Note

QC 20150209

Available from: 2013-06-12 Created: 2013-06-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Ecology, Transport Infrastructure and Environmental Assessment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ecology, Transport Infrastructure and Environmental Assessment
2013 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Transport infrastructure has a wide array of effects on ecological processes. These effects benefit certain species and might enhance or accelerate ecological processes such as colonization and dispersal, but as well extinction. The overall impact on biodiversity is however negative and several authors conclude transport infrastructure to have detrimental effects on terrestrial and aquatic communities. Planning and construction of transport infrastructure is in the EU to be preceded by an environmental assessment process, with the overall aim to prevent rather than repair potential unintended negative effects. This thesis presents two studies on transport infrastructure effects on biodiversity in the context of environmental assessment. The first study reviewed how and how sufficiently biodiversity aspects were accounted for in environmental assessment of transport infrastructure projects and plans, and identified opportunities to improve concurrent practice. The first study concluded that the treatment of biodiversity aspects has improved over the years, but that the low use of quantitative impact assessment methods, the treatment of fragmentation and spatial and temporal delimitation of the impact assessment study area remain problematic. The second study assessed the impact of the Swedish road network on biodiversity by use of existing landscape ecological metrics and GIS. The second study reconnects to the shortcomings in environmental assessment practice identified in the first study, by discussing the utility of the method in terms of applicability in environmental assessment processes. The second study identified nature types and species adversely exposed to transport infrastructure effects, and concluded that sound methodologies for biodiversity assessment can be developed using existing tools and techniques. In sum, transport infrastructure influence vast areas of the surrounding landscape, and this is not accounted for in planning and design of new transport infrastructure due to shortcomings in current environmental assessment practice. Existing tools and techniques could be used to address several of these shortcomings, and an increased use of quantitative analysis of transport infrastructure effects on biodiversity would add significantly to the quality of impact predictions and evaluations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2013. x, 18 p.
Series
Trita-LWR. LIC, ISSN 1650-8629 ; 2068
Keyword
EIA, SEA, Transport Infrastructure, Ecology, Biodiversity
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-123562 (URN)978-91-7501-800-3 (ISBN)
Presentation
2013-06-10, V3, Teknikringen 76, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
GESP
Funder
Formas
Note

QC 20130612

Available from: 2013-06-12 Created: 2013-06-12 Last updated: 2013-06-12Bibliographically approved
2. Road Ecology for Environmental Assessment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Road Ecology for Environmental Assessment
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Transport infrastructure is closely linked to several politically relevant sustainability issues, and since 1985 a formalized environmental assessment process is linked to planning and construction of new roads and railways in the EU (EU directives 85/337/EEC and 2001/42). The aim of the environmental assessment process is to think in advance; to identify, predict and evaluate significant environmental changes resulting from a proposed activity, in order to adjust the proposed activity accordingly and to avoid unnecessary and unexpected consequences. Biodiversity is a component of sustainable development that is in many ways affected by road and railway construction, but which has been challenging to fully account for within the environmental assessment process. This thesis presents four studies on the role of biodiversity in environmental assessment of road and railway plans and projects. Paper I presents the state of the art of road and railway impacts on ecological patterns and processes sustaining biodiversity, and reviews the treatment of biodiversity in a selection of environmental assessment reports from Sweden and the UK. Paper II presents a quantitative assessment of the impact of the Swedish road network on birds and mammals, and how fragmentation and road disturbance might affect a selection of ecological profiles. Paper III demonstrates how scientific models, data and knowledge can be mobilized for the design and evaluation of railway corridors, and Paper IV analyses how habitat connectivity, as a prerequisite of genetic exchange, relates to landscape composition and size and number of fauna passages. The results from Paper I show that road and railway impacts on biodiversity need to be addressed at every level of planning; from corridor alignment in the landscape to utilization and maintenance. The review of environmental assessment reports shows that the treatment of biodiversity in environmental assessment has improved over the years, but that problems with habitat fragmentation, connectivity and the spatial delimitation of the impact assessment study area remain. The results from Paper II identify natural grasslands and southern broadleaved forest, prioritized habitat types important for biodiversity, to most likely be highly affected by road impacts, and suggest road disturbance to have a high impact on overall habitat availability. The results from Paper III demonstrate how the landscape specific distribution of ecological and geological resources can be accounted for in railway corridor design, and potentially lead to more resource efficient outcomes with less impact on ecological processes. The results from Paper IV indicate that the several small fauna passages would increase connectivity more across a barrier than the construction of a single large. Effective barrier mitigation will also depend on the selection of focal species and the understanding of how the focal species perceive the landscape in terms of resistance to movement. This thesis demonstrates how quantitative assessment can benefit biodiversity impact analysis and address issues such as habitat connectivity and fragmentation, which have been difficult to account for in environmental assessment. It is recommended that biodiversity impact analysis moves towards an increasing use of quantitative methods and tools for prediction, evaluation and sensitivity analysis. Future challenges include verification and calibration of relevant spatial ecological models, and further integration of road ecology knowledge into road and railway planning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2015. xii, 51 p.
Series
TRITA-LWR. PHD, ISSN 1650-8602 ; 2015:06
Keyword
Roads, Railways, Biodiversity, Environmental Assessment, GIS, Decision Support
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Land and Water Resources Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-176399 (URN)978-91-7595-746-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-11-25, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, KTH, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
GESP
Funder
Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning, 242-2009-1285
Note

QC 20151103

Available from: 2015-11-03 Created: 2015-11-03 Last updated: 2015-11-03Bibliographically approved

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