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Eco crossings over and under ring road paying off for wildlife
The Groenendael ‘ecoduct’ introduced two years ago to help wildlife get from one part of the Sonian Forest to the other is working to plan, according to environmental organisation Natuurpunt. Not only are a diverse number of species finding their way to the green overbridge, fewer animals are getting killed on the Brussels ring road.
The ecoduct (pictured) crosses over the ring road at Groenendael, part of the municipality of Hoeilaart, on the southeast border of Brussels. It was the site of many accidents involving drivers and wildlife.
The ecoduct was a major project, involving not only the construction of the overbridge but the planting of some 10,500 trees and shrubs and the laying of 24 kilometres of eco-fencing. The fencing helps to keep animals off the R0 and guide them in the direction of the overbridge.
The eco-fencing also works to connect the ecoduct to other crossings on the R0, one of which – a tunnel at the complex Quatre Bras interchange in Tervuren – was originally built for people but was made more nature friendly to encourage wildlife to make use of it. A third tunnel under the R0 is much smaller, consisting of a pipe big enough for small mammals to get through.
Foxes and deer benefit most
Natuurpunt has completed a study of all of the crossings that included camera footage of exactly what species are using them. They found that the ecoduct was being used by larger animals such as deer and wild boar, but also stone martens, polecats and a great number of species of mice.
Salamanders and frogs are also making their way to other parts of the Sonian Forest. The Groenendael ecoduct, in fact, is equipped with small ponds to encourage amphibians to use it.
“Foxes and deer showed up on the ecoduct camera the most,” said Natuurpunt in a statement. “We also saw stone martens and polecats, though the polecats mostly used the smaller pipe crossing. There weren’t any big surprises, but the camera at the pedestrian tunnel at Quatre Bras did show that more wild boar are coming into that area.”
Natuurpunt hopes to further defragment the Sonian Forest for the sake of the wildlife. “During our research, we paid special attention to roadkill victims,” it said. “During the entire period, we saw hardly any animals that had been killed by cars along the motorway where the eco-fencing is placed.”