Israel Building an “Eco-Bridge” to Help Animals Safely Cross the Country’s Largest Highway

Animals in the wild need to migrate to find mates, food and other resources for their survival, and sometimes their routes take them across busy highways. This can be dangerous for both wildlife and drivers. Israel decided to proactively tackle this problem by creating a unique eco-bridge to help animals safely travel across a major highway.Highway 1 is a busy road that runs between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The crowded road was the site of many accidents, so authorities decided to undertake an $800 million project to widen and straighten it. The hills around Highway 1 are also full of native wildlife. Larger animals, such as deer, gazelles, jackals and hyenas, can cause traffic accidents as drivers swerve to miss them or lose control after hitting them. Smaller ones, such as the many native species of reptiles, are often killed because drivers can't see them to avoid them.


The eco-bridge is an innovative idea to help those animals cross more safely. At first glance, it looks like a typical highway overpass. However, unlike a road or pedestrian walkway, an eco-bridge is covered with tons of dirt and native vegetation to create a seamless path for animals to travel. Israel's eco-bridge conveniently solves another problem, as Israel Railway is building new tunnels and needed something to do with the 200,000 tons of dirt it had excavated. The Highway 1 project is also working to preserve native vegetation around the roadway to minimize environmental impact.


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Although eco-bridges are unusual worldwide, Israel has already implemented others with great success; eco-bridges also exist in places like Canada's Banff National Park and parts of the Netherlands. When given the option to travel through the forest, animals tend to prefer it. Other countries also use techniques such as strategic gaps in highway guardrails, reduced speed limits and land management techniques to improve road safety in wildlife corridors.Eco-bridges help manage the needs of wildlife while still allowing travelers to get where they need to go. You don't need a major construction project to help wildlife in your very own backyard, though. Provide a home for wildlife while helping other animals in need with this cute teardrop birdhouse.

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