Wild Life spreads via Wildlife-Corridors

A corridor for wildlife is not the same as a corridor for Humans. It’s implied in the name but there’s a meaning to be found within the details, so let’s do that. A ‘Wildlife Corridor’ is a connecting portion of habitat (and geographic ranges) that allows the wildlife to avoid human activities & structures yet they can occupy almost exactly the same place. Consider that man-made structures are all generally fairly unique in design, yet they can be very similar in their impacts, and in this context it can include roads, which are considerably large barriers for (let’s say) a hedgehog, or the towering buildings of any city that is insurmountable for many living beings.

The concept of corridors allows wildlife to travel as they would naturally within their habitat, whilst allowing humans to still inhabit the space. An easy image to picture would be a long line of trees running straight through a city, allowing fairly safe & easy passage for squirrels. This is the ideal of combining human territories with nature with the distinct purpose of travel, for a special few reasons. And in answer to this, conservationists pursue this practice to to prevent small populations from inbreeding (as will in isolated populations). Also on the table is ensuring that any at-risk populations are supported by other same-species populations, able to be re-introduced through natural movements, reducing the risk of species loss through random yet devastating disasters, such as wildfires, disease, or human behaviour.

This is an approach that treats the affects of ‘Habitat Fragmentation’ in which man-made structures split habitat areas and cause animals to lack the ability to move freely between regions, restricting access to resources that once supported their larger populations. A road that cuts through a forest, for example, is one instance of Habitat Fragmentation.

And yes, as you may have guessed, there is even a backyard solution at hand!

To begin, Wildlife Corridor’s are:

The ‘corridor’ is a neither a method of travel nor a reason to travel, it a design used to create safe passages across otherwise endangering and/or incompatible terrain. The corridors themselves are mixed designs depending on several factors, but can generally be considered as [1] extensions of 2+ connected habitats, [2] an introduced semi-natural feature to encourage movement behaviours (e.g. overpass wildlife crossings), or [3] man-made structures used to aid in species-specific travel (rope bridges, amphibian tunnels, etc).

These can take the shape of long, continuous belts of extended habitat from each ‘fragmented’ habitat site, perfect for locations where you can easily cross the terrain. On the other hand, platforms (stepping stones) can be created at various distances to give animals respite when travelling across arduous but otherwise safer terrains. In regards to specifically dangerous yet temptingly narrow fragment zones (i.e. roads), ‘Underpasses & Overpasses’ are created instead to join the fragmented habitat in a semi-natural way.

Whilst there are considerations to be taken in regards to terrain, topography, physical barriers, animal species, vegetation cover and local climate, the Wildlife Corridor is an effective method of encouraging safe travel of wild species whilst overlapping with human landscapes.

One of the most obvious considerations is one mentioned previously. And that is, what will be the ‘corridor’; forests, grasslands, waterbodies, pollinator patches, or something else?

Well for you, that’s for you to decide!

Your Garden, Wildlife Corridors, and why you?

First at hand, how do you benefit? It’s important that we know, otherwise we may lose a portion of our garden to something we see as a loss of opportunity for ourselves. I talk about providing links between habitats so animals may travel, and even find shelter, forage foods, or perform other behaviours, which for nature lovers or garden enthusiasts may be a real treat to have access to, and yet there are opportunities to use technique to your advantage whilst sharing your garden in the creation of these corridors.

So with the grace of a thrown brick, let’s get started with the most obvious benefit, this being that you determine what is being planted. In gardens the idea of a corridor varies, either you build a system to allow wildlife to travel through fencing so they can access greater resources, or create ‘stepping stones’ for flying wildlife to stop by at as they follow their flight path, or even smooth out the edges of your various microhabitats (ponds, raised beds, hedges etc) so that movement is easier between them. Through all this, you decide on your approach. Should you decide to plant plants the develop fruit for travelling birds, you can also eat use the fruit for both consumption, creation, or culture. Honestly I just wanted to use those words in order to make it sounds cool, but seriously the long and short of it is, you gain value based on your management plans.

Depending on your Wildlife Corridor design choices, you draw in certain wildlife to your garden for you to appreciate. A pollinator section can act as part of a ‘Bee Highway’ for instance, drawing in pollinators to thrum the air and create a busy garden. But they also bring with them pollen, seeds, a food chain, the capability for your garden to be enriched with this new avenue of wildlife. The ability for humans and wildlife to coexist in the same space is proven through the creation of corridors, and is a experience worth investing in no matter your goal in life.

As travel increases to your garden, not only wildlife but plant-life is transported through seed dispersal. Do you desire wildflower patch that changes annually, for free, as animals deposit them in your garden? You’ll be seeing different flowers yearly as they travel, as ironically one of the positives of human owned gardens is that they are maintained at a state at which they are easily influenced, so it doesn’t take much to change them into something new. So, why not grab a few free flowers along the way and let them grow?

You can certainly dream up a few new benefits depending on your creativity, and (shameless advertisement) what you read from my other articles. From beneficial microhabitats & ecosystem engineers to profitable-producers & money-savers, there can be space for any of them through wildlife corridors.

How to: Wildlife Corridor

So, where to begin? It’s best to say this early, and that is you’re about to get creative. And put yourself in the animals shoes. Well… paws? Talons? Slithery underbelly…

There’s two ways to go about this project. A tangible, physical bridge of vegetation to connect up your local habitats by overcoming the various obstacles, as we’ve discussed here previously, or getting a bit creative in encouraging your wildlife to venture out into your garden a bit more freely.

So, let’s consider your solid borders, the fencing and brickwork walls. A easy solution for wooden fencing is to cut small ground level holes to allow animal movement through fragmented gardens, or if you don’t wish to do damage, dig underpasses through soil or craft an overpass of ropes, slopes, or even plants (small mammals & insects) so animals can climb under & over, reaching new resources & suitable habitats.

And on that note, let’s expand on habitats. Have you got a hedgerow, grassland, pond, tree(s), shrubs, flowerbed, or another feature? Through this, consider the dangers of travel when there is no shelter to be found between the shelter of trees & shrubs to the safe drinking water of the pond. It may look aesthetically pleasing, but it’s a energy consuming task to risk the run for a daily necessity. Perhaps allow the grass to grow a tad wild in places, developing tussocks, stands, and rides to connect these habitats. Feel encouraged to allow sheltered habitats (hedges, shrubs, places hidden from plain view) to expand their territory slightly and encroach upon their neighbours so travel becomes slightly less risky. Connect two trees by allowing a hedgerow to develop between them, allowing safe passage for mammals that desire their fallen fruits but can’t always swallow the risk-factors that come with travelling the distance on open ground.

Explore your local area, what are the prevailing species of plants and wildlife? What could you allow to grow in your garden that could support these species? Even if you ‘just’ plant fruits for birds, you can support the wildlife that eats those birds through a food chain, or depend upon their presence to attract prey. Don’t feel like you have to bear the weight of all animals, you can do a lot with a little work, and doing too much for everything when you don’t have the space will negatively affect what you do provide that makes a real change.

These are considerations to be facing when installing a wildlife corridor. Consider your species, and consider the ‘path’ they’ll need to access new places, and you’ll be marching in the right direction.

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