The City of Gold Coast invests a great deal into understanding and managing the impacts of the road network on both native wildlife and driver safety.
To ensure that their resources are applied in the most effective way, a thorough review and analysis of existing measures with best practise recommendations on planning and building roads that minimise danger to people and wildlife was required.
Wildlife-vehicle collisions pose a serious risk to Australia’s native wildlife populations. Over 13,000 wildlife collisions have been reported on the Gold Coast alone in the last decade, with koalas accounting for 1,625 incidents in the same period.
To help reduce vehicle-related wildlife injury and death, our team undertook a review to identify collision hotspots, looked at how existing mitigation measures are performing, and provided tailored recommendations to manage this issue at sites with the most significant wildlife collisions.
Saving our native wildlife one byte at a time
Our team comprised experts in their field who analysed and reviewed relevant information through a detailed literature review, spatial analysis, and ground-truthing surveys.
With this information, we identified 30 hotspot roads and, for each, developed a road profile including site-specific mitigation recommendations which considered the surrounding land use, topography and presence of existing structures. Additionally, each hotspot road profile was supported by a map visually displaying recommended infrastructure.
The top 30 hotspot roads are ranked according to their significance for Koala strikes and together, these 30 hotspot roads account for 77% of reported Koala strikes across the Gold Coast.
With driver safety also in mind, we considered a range of options and best practice mitigation measures from around the world and conducted a thorough analysis of how our recommendations might work for the Gold Coast and specifically their likelihood of success per hotspot road.
Recommended mitigation measures include:
- Static and vehicle-activated signage
- New fauna fencing
- Modifying existing fencing
- Retrofitting existing culverts with fauna furniture
- Vegetation management
- Installing fauna culverts
- Vehicle calming devices such as speed humps, rumble strips and chicanes
- Koala grids to restrict access to roads
- Koala ladders to enable escape from roads
- Together, our findings and implementation plan formed the basis of our program-level recommendations contained in the Wildlife-vehicle Collision Mitigation Program.
Community-backed recommendations to address native wildlife-vehicle collisions
The project has been presented to the community and has received overwhelming support. This work has also been shared with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, which is responsible for State roads. Both regulatory bodies are now using this resource and budgets have been allocated for the different implementation plans which are being progressively rolled out.
The Mayor’s own community newsletter showcased how important this project is to the local community
A standardised approach to collecting data will yield much better outcomes
One of our core recommendations was to develop protocols that govern how data is collected with end-use in mind. Data on wildlife collisions is abundant, but unfortunately, this project showed us the extent of opportunity lost due to the enormous volume of data rendered unusable as a result of inconsistent collection methods.
With better data collection and use protocols in place, more robust data could be used for consistent spatial modelling that enhances analysis and predicts patterns for better wildlife and driver safety outcomes.
Other recommendations include the requirement for further analysis and assessment; for example, to identify potential contributing factors such as road type, speed limit, and visibility. Regular and continued monitoring of the effectiveness of mitigation actions is also very important.
Additionally, we suggested a city-wide public education campaign informing the community about the City’s conservation efforts and providing actions that they can take to help.