Presentation / Webinar
Nidhi Madan
Published in
Submitted by
Related theme(s)
Environment & Climate Change, General
All Regions

Road Networks as Ecological Corridors: A Case for Sustainable Road Landscapes in India (Presentation 800)

With over 3.3 million kilometres of roads across India (NHAI), roads and highways together form the single largest contiguous network of open space available in the country today. This transit network has 96,000km of national highways alone, set to increase exponentially to 200,000 km. Expressways, state highways, major district and rural roadways are also expanding rapidly.
During this phase of exponential growth, transport networks provide the opportunity to address landscape ecology at a vast scale, at multiple levels be it national, regional, state or local level. Road networks must be considered within the ambit of a larger vision for open space development with sustainable strategies for diverse landscapes and critical biodiversity hot spots. 
Designing roads for speed and efficiency, the consequent deforestation, barriers to migration, wildlife fragmentation, loss of habitat and adverse impact to water and soils changes the regional landscape ecology. Attempts to mitigate the effects of particulate emissions, noise pollution and heat and glare too are lost when landscape development is addressed belatedly.
This paper advocates the need for a balanced approach towards the transit corridor planning in light of development pressures, climate change challenges, water management opportunities, need for disaster preparedness and wildlife migration corridor preservation in India. An integrated planning approach enhances and encourages local engagement, native plantation and regional ecological diversity. Whereas the economic impetus of road expansion is pressing, a comprehensive approach to transport corridor planning and design addressing the socio- cultural, ecological issues and long-term adaptation to changing climate is equally urgent.