Roads to ruin: The most environmentally destructive highways in Southeast Asia

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From ALERT–the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers & Thinkers logging-truck-bike_2246385k

Roads scare the bejeezus out of many scientists because they often open a Pandora’s Box of environmental problems — such as unleashing illegal deforestation, logging, hunting, mining, and land speculation.

For that reason it’s crucial not to put roads in the wrong places — such as wilderness areas, places with vital environmental values, or locales with lots of endangered or endemic species.

ALERT member Gopalasamy Reuben Clements and colleagues (including ALERT director Bill Laurance) have just published a major analysis of the environmentally most damaging roads in Southeast Asia — one of the most imperiled and biologically important areas of the planet.

This analysis — which you can download for free here — identifies the worst roads in Southeast Asia, especially those likely to endanger native mammals and imperil surviving forests.

In total, 16 existing roads and another 8 planned roads were identified as serious ‘nature killers’.

These roads would imperil more than a fifth of all the endangered mammal species in the region, mainly by promoting forest destruction and illegal hunting and wildlife trade.

A key element of the paper is 10 recommendations to limit road impacts in Southeast Asia.

Far too often, roads are the first step toward ecological Armageddon.  We all have to do more to educate the world about the crucial role that roads play in endangering nature.

The paper led by Gopalasamy Reuben Clements is an important step in the right direction.