Wildlife passages (also named fauna passages) are transversal structures located under or over the transport infrastructure constructed or modified to provide safe crossing points for animals and/or to connect habitats on both sides of the infrastructure. Main types of wildlife passages are:
- Landscape overpasses (Ecoducts/Green bridges)
- Wildlife and multiuse overpasses
- Tree- top overpasses (Canopy bridges)
- Adapted viaducts (Landscape underpasses)
- Wildlife and multiuse underpasses
- Adapted culverts
- Amphibian passages
Wildlife passages must be regularly inspected and maintained to ensure their long-term performance. Structural points as well as ecological features related to soil, vegetation, wildlife refuges or human uses could have a major effect on fauna passage effectiveness and must be appropriately maintained. Land uses and environmental changes in adjacent areas may also radically modify their use by wildlife.
All types of wildlife passages, including under and overpasses and adapted culverts modified to enhance wildlife use should be included in the inventory and the maintenance plan. Maintenance tasks may vary widely according to the type of structure and must be based on standards provided in the project.
Some passages are specific for wildlife, while others are multiuse and combine wildlife passage with drainage, cattle routes, pedestrian paths, or even low-intensity traffic roads. Cooperation with water, environmental and land planning authorities, as well as other local stakeholders, is crucial to guarantee their conservation and could assist in reducing maintenance costs.
Special structures, such as big landscape overpasses (ecoducts/ green bridges), could require particular management involving local stakeholders. Those structures located in Natural Protected Areas, ecological corridors or with endangered target species should be prioritised and will require additional ecological monitoring by wildlife experts to verify the achievement of their goals.
The following descriptive maintenance task sheets are provided in Section 7.4 – Maintenance tasks sheets: