March 13, 2008

From Bike Lanes to "Wildlife Highways"

The town of Cambourne in the United Kingdom is notable not just for its abundance of bike lanes and pedestrians, but also for the wetlands, woodlands and lakes, which have attracted an unusual variety of wildlife.

According to The Independent, Cambourne was developed in the 1990s on what used to be farmland, and built “wildlife highways” to link ponds, forests and other habitats before the local office park or housing developments were approved.

By linking habitat fragmented by development, isolated plant and animal species are more able to move around, mingle and propagate.

As a result, Cambourne is rich with biological diversity, including numerous bird species, deer, badgers, newts, dragonflies and voles.

Although the town is not chock-full of solar houses or wind turbines, it has been lauded by wildlife campaigners for its protection of habitat.

The Wildlife Trusts, which helped Cambourne develop its “green infrastructure,” said habitat protection is the missing link in a government plan to establish “eco cities” with low or no carbon dioxide emissions.

Critics say the plan is too secretive, and shuts out local voices, giving rise to fears of large “zero carbon” housing developments that nonetheless fragment local ecosystems, and disrupt animal migration and water cycles.

Source:

“Eco-towns: The new town that got back to nature”
The Independent (U.K.), March 12, 2008

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