Corridors have proliferated in the past decade. Not just plans for corridors, or lines drawn on a map as hypothetical connections, but real corridors intended for the conservation of biodiversity. A recent special feature on The Design of Ecological Corridors in Restoration Ecology highlights lessons learned in the creation and implementation of 8 corridor projects. Each of the case studies is worth reading in its own right. Taken as a group, the reports highlight the creative experiments being implemented to conserve or restore connectivity from local to national levels, to increase the extent and effectiveness of corridors. A few key points emerge:
1. Corridors are being created with people in mind. Conservation goals have expanded beyond the preservation of remote protected areas to areas where people live and work, and corridors provide a means to accomplish this. The Castaña Corridor the Amazonian headwaters integrates sustainable agroforestry through the maintenance of Brazil nut concessions within the corridors. In the Pine Rocklands of south Florida, USA, citizens plant rare plants in their backyards and at schools to reconnect habitat in a densely populated area. The Nyanganje Corridor in Tanzania will conserve elephant migrations while preventing human-wildlife conflict.
2. Laws are beginning to support the creation of corridors, although with mixed effects. In Tanzania, the Wildlife Act allows the creation and maintenance of wildlife corridors. In Brazil, the Forest Act provides for conservation of river buffers that would maintain wildlife corridors, but is is poorly enforced and has mixed levels of support. In other countries, like Peru, there are no laws specifically for corridors.
3. More work is being done to validate the effects of corridors on biodiversity and the environment. Monitoring in the Nyanganje Corridor in Tanzania was used to show where elephants traveled and how migration was being curtailed by human encroachment. Plant surveys in Florida’s Pine Rocklands have shown the successful establishment of rare plants, and will in future be used to evaluate their spread and persistence through more connected landscapes. Corridors in the Amazonian Headwaters are supported by biological inventories, and are being monitored for their function as buffers to reduce stream contaminants.
The reports mentioned above, and others, are found in the December Special Issue of Ecological Restoration on The Design of Ecological Corridors.
Alvez J.P., A.L. Schmitt Filho, J. Farley, G. Alarcon, and A.C. Fantini. 2012. The potential or agroecosystems to restore ecological corridors and sustain farmer livelihoods: evidence from Brazil. Ecological Restoration 30 (4):288-290.
Powell, D. And J. Maschinski. 2012. Connecting fragments of Pine Rockland ecosystem of south Florida: the connect to protect network. Ecological Restoration 30 (4):285-288.
Rosenthal, A., H. Stutzman, and A. Forsyth. 2012. Creating mosaic-based conservation corridors to respond to major threats in the Amazon Headwaters. Ecological Restoration 30 (4):296-299.
Rovero, F., and T. Jones. 2012. Wildlife corridors in the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania. Ecological Restoration 30 (4):282-285.
Schlotterbeck, C. 2012. The Coal Canyon story. Ecological Restoration 30 (4):290-293.