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The Problem

Traffic network in Slovenia has grown rapidly over the past two decades, mainly due to the construction of highways. Areas occupied by road infrastructure are constantly increasing, consequently causing suitable habitat loss and habitat fragmentation at the same time with creating insurmountable barriers which disrupt the daily and seasonal migration routes of numerous species. The road infrastructure is modernizing with more and more roads being paved, allowing higher speeds and greater number of users. The number of drivers and cars is also increasing; the latter are becoming more powerful. According to EuroRAP (European Road Assessment Programme), in 2009 62.7% of the Slovenian citizens had a driving licence and there were 1,366,134 registered motor vehicles in Republic of Slovenia. According to statistics from the year 2009, 11.3% of all accidents on regional roads were due to collisions with animals or on average 6800 roadkills (small animals not causing damage to vehicles are not taken into account). For example, in 2006 6481 roe deer, 232 red deer and wild boars, 12 bears (eight hit by the train) ended under the wheels. Drivers also killed 722 foxes, 321 badgers, 254 beech martens, 729 hares and undetermined number of small animals such as hedgehogs, squirrels and other small mammals, amphibians and birds. There is also many pet roadkills (especially cats and dogs), which are generally not included in any statistics. Increased number of accidents caused by collisions with animals is not only jeopardizing animals but also human security in traffic, particularly in collisions with large mammals (red deer, roe deer, wild boars, bears, badgers, etc.). The police keep detailed statistics on traffic accidents due to animal collision, but only in cases of a greater impact requiring their intervention. In 2006 there were 357 accidents resulting in a roadkill, in 2007 already more than 400 with approx. 50 people sustaining injuries.


Slovenia is a country with one of the highest biodiversities in the Europe. More than one third of Slovenian territory is included in Natura 2000 network. These are special protected areas of European importance that are important for the conservation of species, their habitats and habitat types (Council Directive 92/43/EEC). On the lists of Council Directive on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora are also numerous species that are more or less often traffic victims, e.g. Eurasian lynx, wild cat, brown bear, grey wolf, otter, pine marten, European polecat, beaver, amphibians (Italian agile frog, Italian crested newt, both fire-bellied and yellow-bellied toad, European toad, European tree frog and others), reptiles (aesculapian snake, European pond terrapin, sand lizard, ...) etc. Traffic is threatening several protected animal species in Slovenia. Besides of all the above listed, the most exposed protected species are: European hedgehog, East European hedgehog, red squirrel, stoat, amphibians and reptiles. Increasing road and railway network, higher number of vehicles in the traffic and higher car velocity jointly reduce the road safety, create physical barriers and present an additional threat to biodiversity.


Next concern is habitat fragmentation. Majority of roads in Slovenia does not have appropriate underpasses or overpasses (green bridges) that would enable animal migration between different parts of their habitats. Also on local roads the conditions are becoming worse, since higher number of cars and their velocities in the traffic result in higher number of vehicle/wildlife collisions. Especially on local roads problem presents running over amphibians in time of spring and autumn migrations. For some animal species in long-term road and railway barriers can become fatal for species existence. Isolation of populations due to traffic infrastructures reduces the possibility of gene flow and causes inbreeding. Consequently biodiversity is reducing, genetic variability is getting impoverished and homoziygosity of offspring is increasing. Barriers have various effects on different species. On species such as badger or amphibians, of which migration routes and territories are more or less constant, traffic effects can be devastating. Badgers are relatively slow animals and are often traffic victims, while for amphibians roads cut their migration routes between terrestrial and aquatic habitats. On the other side there are species (e.g. fox) that managed to adjust more or less successfully to presence of roads and railways. Despite everything said, we can observe lately more and more collisions with both wild and domestic animals, which also endanger lives of people in the traffic.

With our work we want to first of all accomplish reduction of negative influences of traffic on animals. We aim to increase awareness of the fact that also animals are participants in the traffic to a higher level, consequently ensuring safer driving and reducing number of victims among animals.

Our work is important for bringing to effect the National Programme on the Road Traffic Safety in Slovenia for the period 2007-2011, Biodiversity Conservation Strategy of Slovenia (MOP 2002), Nature Conservation Act, Environmental Protection Act, Wild Game and Hunting Act, Natura 2000 Site Management Programme 2007-2013, Decree on the Prohibition of Driving Vehicles in the Natural Environment. We are contributing to the realization of EU goals on the area of biodiversity conservation (The Habitat Directive 92/43/EEC, The Bird Directive 2009/147/EC). Conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of its components are the two fundamental aims of Convention on Biological Diversity. Threats to biotic diversity rise out of human perception of nature, his attitude towards the latter and predominant behaviour patterns. All this also reflects in human attitude toward the traffic and traffic network construction. In order to bring the problematic to the people, we need higher awareness, motivation and better education.