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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Green mapping to enhance roadside biodiversity

A new mapping tool will make it easier for us to keep track of ecosystems on our Soft Estate. This is the land that borders the England’s 4,300 miles of motorways and major A-roads.


The project will will help us:


halt the decline of biodiversity across our activities by 2025

help us improve how we maintain and and improve biodiversity in the next Road Period (2025-20230)

In Oct 2023, the project completed its concept stage - to explore whether remote sensing and spatial analytics could help us achieve biodiversity net gain.


Funded through the Designated Funds Innovation and Modernisation fund, the concept stage was conducted with the Connected Places and Satellite Applications Catapult.


Building on research

Our current approach built on research we conducted with Manchester Metropolitan University in 2022 to develop a new mapping system to monitor ecosystems bordering our roads.


While we already have detailed environmental maps of many individual locations, this new approach is the first time we've mapped the entirety of England’s strategic road network.


The land surrounding the road network is often undisturbed by humans and contains a range of protected habitats including species-rich grasslands, woodlands and wetlands.


Each habitat can potentially support a number of rare and protected animals and plants including peregrine falcons, dormice, rare orchids and other wild plants.


We can't survey every inch of this area manually. New mapping tools, supported by ground-level assessments of the local habitat, will enable us to target biodiversity investment more precisely in future.


Our commitment to biodiversity

As one of the biggest landowners in the UK, we operate 4,300 miles of England’s motorways and major A-roads


We're on course to achieve our 2020 commitments:


halting the decline of biodiversity

achieving no net loss in biodiversity across its activities by 2025.

In the next five years, we'll make a further move toward becoming nature positive by:


delivering at least a 10 per cent net gain in biodiversity on our major projects

moving towards a no net loss position for our Soft Estate between 2025 and 2030

Gains are being delivered through enhancements built into:


our major projects

biodiversity sustaining operational activities

innovative partnerships with conservation charities.

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