GUEST ARTICLE: EVERY ANIMAL MATTERS

Fraser Shilling, Director Road Ecology Centre, University of California, Davis fmshilling@ucdavis.edu

In the 90s, I used to drive long distances to see my girlfriend in Southern California. I would see dead wildlife on my drive, and for many species, it was the first time I had seen them in the wild. Years later, as a landscape ecologist at UC Davis, I started to connect the real wildlife losses along roads with the habitat fragmentation I studied in geographic information systems on computers. In many ways, this transformed my research trajectory and brought my science closer to my concern for the Earth. Many scientists shy away from saying they are environmentalists or want to fight to protect the Earth, but that’s silly and is like being a ship’s engineer and not caring if it sinks.

My name is Fraser Shilling, and I am the director of the Road Ecology Centre at the University of California, Davis. My centre is affiliated with the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS), both the firsts of their kind. ITS is well-known for investigating non-motorised travel, alternative fuels, and other revolutions in transportation needed to prevent climate change and improve human quality of life. My centre is best known for studying conflicts between transportation and nature, many of which can be measured as impacts on wildlife. We aren’t shy about our position that nature and wildlife matter, and we use our studies across scales from whole continents to individual animals to make this case.

This concern for wildlife and especially those needlessly killed on roads brought me into contact with the EWT and in particular, the extraordinary Wendy Collinson. We have begun an incredible project together, bringing together the “transportation ecologists” from around the world into one Congress to discuss the outstanding issues in our field. The brainchild of Wendy, the Global Congress on Linear Infrastructure and Environment (GCLIE), will have its first meeting this year, preceding the conference I organise, the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation. GCLIE will kick off with experts from around the world sharing their perspectives and include open discussions about how road, rail, canal, powerline, and fence infrastructure break habitat up into pieces, kill wildlife, and exacerbate human impacts on Nature. If you are reading this, you are welcome to join the discussion. Go to https://gclie.org for more information.

To learn more about the Road Ecology Centre, go to https://roadecology.ucdavis.edu.