Wildlife crossing bridges in The Netherlands
The Netherlands is a relatively small country but has many nature reserves. Over the years, many of them have been split up by national highways, provincial roads and local roads. As a result, bigger and smaller wilflife is locked up in ever-shrinking areas and exposed to being killed by traffic when crossing these roads.
In the late seventies of the last century it was found that the A50 highway, that crosses a wooded nature reserve in the middle of the Netherlands, caused a lot of casualties among crossing wildlife because it split the habitat of mostly deer in half. Plans were made in 1980 to build a cerviduct for deers to cross the highway (Cervidae stands for deer) which was finished in 1988. It’s the oldest one in The Netherlands and many more followed since then, commonly known as ecoducts (Wildlife crossing bridges). Ecoducts are wide and planted with plants and trees as naturally as possible to enable undisturbed wildlife passage.
Sometimes ecoducts are extended with a small game tunnel (Ecombiduct). Tunnels are particularly effective for animals that experience light and noise nuisance from road and rail traffic.
One of the latest additions is the eco-aquaduct, a passage for aquatic animals such as otters, snakes, frogs and fish.
Most of the bigger ecoducts (crossing higways, railroads and provincial roads) are part of Nature Network Netherlands. This is the name of the ecological main structure of the Netherlands, a coherent network of existing and future nature reserves in the Netherlands. It’s an important part of the national nature policy and the goal is to stabilize the dutch bioviversity. The network consists of core areas, nature development areas and connecting zones.
Core areas are national parks and other nature reserves, estates, forests, large waters and valuable agricultural landscapes that are at least 600 acres in size. Nature development areas are areas which potentialy have natural values of national or international significance. Connecting zones are areas that link core areas and nature development areas together. The ultimate goal is to connect the Nature Network Netherlands to ecological corridors of our neighboring countries Belgium and Germany.