Here's a brief diversion. Via @nationaltrust on Twitter, I learn, via the Daily Mail, that Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council in South Wales have spent £190,000 on a set of three dormice bridges designed to allow the rodents to cross a new major bypass. This is of course the type of story that the tabloids love to express outrage on. Never mind the fact that the bypass is a massive, £90 million pound project involving new roundabouts, junctions, footbridges and the planting of 117,000 trees. Or that, to get any project like this approved, the environmental impact has to be assessed at the planning stage, and that things like the dormouse bridge - or the relocation of newts, frogs and lizards - get specified as requirements in an attempt to mitigative the negative environmental impact that tarmacing a huge stretch of the countryside inevitably has.
But this post isn't about tabloid hysteria - that's just to be expected. Instead, think about the dormouse bridges for what they are: infrastructure for wildlife.
This notion sent me off on a Googling spree. Here's what I found:
I'm sure there are plenty more examples.
Aside from being interesting design challenges, and a good example of humans trying to be vaguely responsible about our time on the Earth, when I see specialised infrastructure an obvious thought pops into my head: there should be a map of this stuff.
After all, if there's CycleStreets mapping all the esoteric cycling infrastructure stuff (bike lanes, repair shops, parking spots, etc), then perhaps there's room for an AnimalMaps? As well as all the man-made stuff, it could show you where the natural habitats for different animals are. So if you wanted to see a Red Squirrel (which I definitely do - never seen one in my life so far), then you'd know where to look. Obviously, zoos would be big hotspots... For migratory species, you'd have to have some sort of time slider (which would default to today). There could also be a longer-term year-slider, which you could roll back to see how rapidly habitats have shrunk over the decades. For some species (such as those featured in Last Chance To See), that'd be pretty dramatic.
Does anything like this exist? And if not, who would build it?