Over the past six years Froglife have been monitoring the success of road mitigation tunnels for amphibians. We have used unique infrared time lapse cameras to monitor amphibian movements through 34 tunnels across 7 sites in four countries across Europe (England, Scotland, France and Portugal). During this time period we have recorded 4,760 individual amphibians from 11 species including common frog (Rana temporaria), agile frog (R. dalmatina), fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra), great crested newt (Triturus cristatus), western spadefoot toad (Pelobates cultripes) and Iberian ribbed newt (Pleurodeles waltl). In 2019 Froglife published findings from one of our sites in Northern England1, demonstrating a significant population increase in the great crested newt, a European protected species, over a four year period.

Our research has shown that mitigation tunnels can provide benefits to amphibian populations, providing valuable corridors between terrestrial and aquatic habitats. We are currently working on analysing data from all of our sites to fully evaluate the success of the tunnels and to provide guidance for developers, local councils and ecological consultants. This will be helpful for implementing the most effective mitigation solutions for amphibian species.

Now that we have good data to demonstrate the efficacy of road mitigation tunnels for amphibians, the next step is to promote their use. Too often research is disseminated in the academic world and does not reach the decision makers and, in this case, infrastructure developers. Froglife has initiated a campaign to promote more good quality road mitigation tunnels: https://www.froglife.org/what-we-do/education/london-t-o-a-d/t-o-a-d-campaign/  . This is proving to be popular and support levels are increasing rapidly. The campaign is being run in tandem with a series of public engagement events to raise awareness of the issue of amphibian road deaths and the role of road mitigation tunnels. To attract new audiences Froglife has created a virtual reality experience of a toad passing through a tunnel under a road. This gives an immersive toad’s-eye view of the world and the challenges toads face. To date 5,363 people have tried the virtual reality and evaluation shows that 75% of people asked had more understanding of why toad tunnels are needed after the VR experience.

These events are being run in high-footfall areas such as London stations and major events such as New Scientist Live! This event attracted 40,000 attendees, with 1,582 undergoing the Toads VR, which is 13% of the total visitor base.

The campaign is gaining high levels of support and once we have reached a substantial number of signatories, we will use that to provide greater impetus to our guidance to decision makers. We will contact the relevant Government departments, all UK Local Authority transport departments, ecological consultants and developers, and by combining guidance on road mitigation tunnels based on our research plus the substantial support from the public from our campaign and petition, we aim to effect real change.

1 Jarvis, L.E., Hartup, M. & Petrovan, S. O. (2019) Road mitigation using tunnels and fences promotes site connectivity and population expansion for a protected amphibian. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 65:27-38. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-019-1263-9.

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