Dangers of the global road-building tsunami

8 06 2017

New roads can be treacherous — even fatal — for wildlife, native forests, and the global environment.

If you don’t believe this, just watch this two-minute video, “Why Roads Are So Dangerous

New roads can also be surprisingly risky for human economies and societies, as shown in this brief video, “Why Roads are Like Pandora’s Box”.

Laurance1.jpgMany people advocate for roads, believing they will bring wealth, jobs, and myriad other benefits. But few appreciate the full story.

Roads are neither entirely good nor bad: they are a double-edged sword, and it’s essential to see both sides of the blade.

Other languages

These videos are vital for a global audience.  For this reason, we have produced the first video in eight different languages:

English: Why roads are so dangerous

French: Pourquoi les routes sont-elles si dangereuses?

Spanish: Por qué las carreteras son tan peligrosas

Portuguese: Porque razão as estradas são tão perigosas

Bahasa Indonesia: Mengapa jalanan sangat berbahaya

Bahasa Malaysia: Bahaya dan kesan negatif jalan raya

Papua New Guinea Pidgin: Bilong wonem na rot i nogut

Mandarin (Chinese): 为什么公路那么危险

Please share these videos, especially with colleagues in developing nations — which are the epicentres of road building.

Roads change everything—economies, societies, politics, nature.  We urgently need better approaches to reduce the damage and increase the benefits from explosive road expansion.


William Laurance is a Distinguished Research Professor and Australian Laureate at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia. A tropical environmental scientist, he has written eight books and over 600 scientific and popular articles. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and has received many professional honors, including the Heineken Environment Prize, BBVA Frontiers in Conservation Biology Award, the Society for Conservation Biology’s Distinguished Service Award, and the Zoological Society of London’s Outstanding Conservation Achievement Award. He is director of the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science at James Cook University, and founded and directs ALERT — the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers & Thinkers — a science-advocacy group that reaches up to 500,000 readers weekly. He is a four-time winner of Australia’s Best Science Writing Prize.



3 responses

6 02 2018
Throwing the nuclear baby out with the fossil-fuel bathwater | ConservationBytes.com

[…] carve up pristine forests with roads, villages, and supply routes. As we know from previous work, excessive road building can spell biodiversity doom for places like the […]


12 06 2017

Would there perchance be one in Hindi in the making?


9 06 2017
Larry Williams

I have hiked much of sUSA, some of nOntario, some of nManitoba, lots of
BritishColumbia. As much as I decry the devastation, I have found, invaribly, that I am walking along roads/trails developed by the industries responsible for the loss of primeval forest. Especially, bushwhacking up a slope can be rather
dangerous if lots of loose debris has been left…alas, I’ve never had opportunity to climb a primeval slope–there are very very few left. So, If I want to access areas of forest elevation, I’ll use established routes for accessing, at least, the oldest stands—and walk very carefully–there. But I have no resolution to the obvious moral delimma. Yer thots?
On the other, other hand, the pine pulp forests of nwLouisiana–meticulously planted blocks of even-aged trees that cover many km>2–produce more game bird and deer populations than did the pre-existing forest. But bloody boring as hell.
Regards, Larry Williams


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