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      Minor rural road networks: values, challenges, and opportunities for biodiversity conservation

      Nature Conservation

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Roads corridors are a conspicuous part of most landscapes, which are gaining greater recognition for their role in nature conservation. However roads cause wildlife mortality, alter water and nutrient flows, change local microclimatic conditions, act as vectors for weeds and pest animals, and have other far-reaching effects. Not surprisingly, there is much attention from both road and conservation managers to lessen these impacts, with an emphasis on developing solutions to mitigate the barrier effects of major roads to wildlife movements. However in many anthropogenic landscapes, road corridors can also provide key habitat and connectivity for local biodiversity. In particular, where traffic volumes are low, minor roads often provide critical habitat and refuge for many native species. Knowledge of the ecology and biodiversity conservation values of minor rural road verges has been underpinned by studies in various contexts, such as sunken roads, field margins and hedgerow networks in Europe, to stock routes in Spain and Australia. Despite their different histories and management constructs, important commonalties have been highlighted in terms of their biodiversity values, and the factors which influence these values. As such, minor rural road networks can be vital in providing connected, functioning ecosystems within rural landscapes. The importance of vegetated minor rural road networks will only become more pressing with future climate change. In Australia, road management authorities are tasked with the dual roles of maintaining road transport needs (i.e. priorities for road maintenance and safety concerns), whilst maintaining the environmental values of roads. This paper reviews the biodiversity values of minor rural roads, discusses the challenges and constraints in managing these values, and describes the case of identifying historic roads as an example of enhancing conservation management of these important habitats in rural landscapes.

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          Most cited references 41

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          The Importance of Land-Use Legacies to Ecology and Conservation

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            Roads as Conduits for Exotic Plant Invasions in a Semiarid Landscape

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              The role of corridors in conservation: Solution or bandwagon?

               Maurine Hobbs (1992)
              Corridors are currently a major buzzword in conservation biology and landscape ecology. These linear landscape features may perform numerous functions, but it is their role in facilitating movement of fauna that has attracted much recent debate. The database supporting the idea of corridors acting as faunal conduits is remarkably small, and few studies have actually demonstrated that movement along corridors is important for any given species. Such data are very difficult to obtain, and conservation biologists are thus faced with the problem of whether to recommend the allocation of resources to corridors on the assumption that they may be important. Copyright © 1992. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Conservation
                NC
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-3301
                1314-6947
                July 28 2015
                July 28 2015
                : 11
                : 129-142
                Article
                10.3897/natureconservation.11.4434
                © 2015

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