Synthesis of Practices for Management and Enhancement of Terrestrial Roadway Ecology

Project Summary


In Progress

Last Updated

October, 2019

Responsible Council / Committee

Environment & Climate Change Council / Environmental Issues Committee

Project Funding Partners

British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure; City of Calgary; City of Winnipeg; Manitoba Infrastructure; Ministère des Transports du Québec; New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure; Northwest Territories Department of Transportation; Nova Scotia Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal; Saskatchewan Highways and Infrastructure; Transport Canada; Yukon Highways and Public Works


WSP Canada Inc.

Staff Contact


Canadian roadways provide for the movement of people, goods and services through rural and urban spaces. The location, design and operation of roads can be highly influential to the character, function and livability of adjacent communities and land uses. In both urban and rural settings roadways have strong linkages with the natural environment. Fish, wildlife, birds, waterbodies, vegetation communities and local air and water quality are affected by roads and vehicular traffic. Roads can alter habitats, increase wildlife mortality, and facilitate the spread of invasive weeds. The concept of “road ecology” is relatively new and its primary focus is on the potential effects of roadways on natural landscapes and processes as an element of sustainable transportation systems.

Previous TAC initiatives have included the development of the Synthesis of Environmental Management Practices for Road Construction, Operations and Maintenance Roadways (2014), the Canadian Guide to Greener Roads (2015) and the Migratory Birds Practices and Operational Guidance Documents (2019). The information presented in those documents offers guidance on achieving environmental protection and compliance objectives for road construction and operations. While the subjects of habitat protection, roadside vegetation management and “holistic landscaping” of rights-of-way are addressed, the information tends to be high level and guidance is oriented to meeting compliance requirements. A current gap in knowledge exists as to where and how these emerging notions and practices have been applied in recent years, how successful they have been, and at what difference in effort and cost from more conventional approaches.

The scope of this project is to address:

  • Rural, major urban and seasonal roadways (i.e. highways, parkways, skeletal and arterial roads, ice and winter roads)
  • Roadside vegetation management
  • Pollinator habitat enhancement opportunities along roadways
  • Interactions of wildlife (mammals, reptiles, amphibians) with roadways i.e. foraging along and movement across roadways, and potential means of conflict avoidance and mitigation
  • Regulatory compliance obligations e.g. species-at-risk, migratory birds, weed control
  • Road safety requirements and considerations
  • Public perception of visual aesthetics
  • Feasibility and operational considerations
  • Cost considerations
  • Decision-making criteria for planning, design, and operational mitigation options

Key tasks to accomplish the project objectives will include:

  • Conduct a literature scan of typical (rural and urban), alternative/seasonal (winter and ice) roadway and innovative roadway ecology practices  
  • Contact and solicit case study information from North American academia and practitioners (agency staff, stakeholder groups and specialists) to identify and elucidate best available technologies and beneficial management practices and considerations for the management of roadway ecology
  • Conduct analysis and synthesis of the compiled information by a multi-disciplinary team to provide insight to matters of planning, design, operational feasibility, cost and risk management
  • Prepare a compendium of current and emerging practices relating to roadway ecology

The work will culminate in a synthesis of practices for the management and enhancement of terrestrial roadway ecology.