Science & Tech

Keys to the highway

2 min read

New book looks at what can be done to soften environmental impact of America's four million miles of road

Even though they have a massive effect on the natural world, roads have been pretty much ignored by ecologists, who prefer to focus on open areas – the territory between the roads. Nor have engineers and other specialists who design, build, and maintain roads been much concerned with the ecological effects of their creation. Richard Forman, a landscape ecologist at the Graduate School of Design, wondered why there was such a disconnect between these two groups and what could be done to get them talking. He decided that what was needed was a book that would bring together all that was known about roads and their impact on the landscape, but he knew that if such a book was to become the catalyst he hoped it would be, he could not be its sole author. “I knew that if I wrote the book, it would be dismissed as the effort of an ecologist from a Northeastern university,” Forman said. “I wanted to make it a book that the transportation community couldn’t ignore.” So Forman got together a dream team of authors who represented all sides of the road ecology problem. They included four road transportation experts, nine ecologists, and one hydrologist.