In 2015, WTI’s Small Urban and Rural Livability Center and West Region Transportation Workforce Center embarked on a collaborative project with partners from the Russian University of Transport (RUT), the Russian Federation’s largest university focused on transportation science and engineering. The project assessed and shared education and training resources to foster accessible transit services in small urban and rural areas.
Since that time, the international exchange of information between RUT and MSU has continued. On November 18, RUT hosted an international conference under the auspices of UNESCO and co-organized together with the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO and the Russian Academy of Sciences, titled “The Role of Transport Science and Education in Achieving Social, Environmental and Technological Sustainability of Societies.” RUT invited WTI to identify speakers for the conference on topics related to mobility, accessibility, sustainability and safety.
Andrea Hamre, Research Associate at the Western Transportation Institute, presented “Poverty, Race, and Transport Justice in Rural and Small Urban Communities.” Former WTI graduate research fellow and current Wildlife Biologist for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Whisper Means, presented “Relationships Across a Highway: Roadkill, Politics and Landscape Connectivity on the Flathead Indian Reservation.” Judy Shanley, Assistant Vice President at Easterseals and Director of the National Center for Mobility Management, presented “Developing a Transportation Workforce that Values the Inclusion of Individuals with Disabilities in Service and Operations.”
Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) Director, Dr. Nic Ward, will be a keynote speaker at the EU Safety Conference in Luxembourg in October 2019. Dr. Ward’s presentation is titled, “Safety Culture: Creating a Sense of Responsibility for Safety in the Population at Large.” The Conference, organized by EuroSafe and the Luxembourg Institute of Health, will cover a wide range of topics related to injury prevention and safety promotion, such as road safety and safety at work. There will be opportunities for cross-cutting communications between sectors and disciplines to address issues such as: translating research into practice and policy, injury related socio-economic inequities, ageing societies, technological developments, social marketing, alcohol, fatigue, and distraction. More information about this international conference is available at the EU Safety 2019 website.
WTI Research Scientist, Tony Clevenger, presented his research on wolverines to the Bow Valley Naturalists in Alberta, Canada recently, resulting in a feature article in the Rocky Mountain Outlook. “Wolverine populations at risk without connectivity” discusses his study that found that the numbers of wolverines in southwest Alberta and British Columbia are much lower than previously thought, and that busy highways are one of the major barriers to species connectivity. Tony has conducted several wolverine research projects in the Canadian Crown of the Continent (CCoC) region between Banff National Park and Glacier National Park at the US border, in collaboration with both public agencies and non-profit foundations.
WTI Road Ecologists Rob Ament and Tony Clevenger traveled to Kuala Lumper, Malaysia in April to present at the Road Ecology – Transportation Infrastructure and Wildlife Conservation Workshop. Co-sponsored by WTI, Association of Consulting Engineers – Malaysia (ACEM), ERE Consulting, the Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME), and the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, the main goal of the workshop was to encourage discussions between wildlife practitioners and engineers that will lead to innovative solutions that enhance both transportation networks and wildlife conservation efforts. Rob and Tony spoke on effective wildlife mitigation measures in North America, such as wildlife crossings, and how they may be applicable to large species in Malaysia, which include both elephants and tigers. One of the highlights of was a field trip to Royal Belum State Park, via houseboat!
The workshop also provided an opportunity to hold the kick-off meeting for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Asian Elephant Transport Working Group, under the auspices of its Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group. “It was our first face-to-face meeting and the 10 members put together a work plan for the next year,” said Rob, who serves on the working group.
Center for Health and Safety Culture researchers Annmarie McMahill and Jay Otto attended the World Appreciative Inquiry Conference at the end of March in Nice, France. The theme of the conference focused on “Generating constructive conversations for the common good.” Participants had the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from around the world to share their cutting-edge work on positive approaches to improving organizations, communities, and public health.
The expertise of WTI researchers is in high demand for research collaborations, presentations, and academic exchanges around the world. “Where in the World is WTI?” will periodically feature partnerships and forums that showcase the growing international scope of our work.
WHERE: Kruger National Park, South Africa
WHO: Rob Ament, Road Ecologist
WHY: African Conference for Linear Infrastructure and Ecology
WTI Road Ecologist Rob Ament traveled to South Africa last week with colleagues Sandra Jacobson and Terry McGuire to present a workshop on how transportation, energy and mining sectors can mainstream biodiversity provisions within linear transportation. The workshop was one component of the African Conference for Linear Infrastructure and Ecology. They also presented a poster based on a recently published paper on transportation infrastructure investment in sub-Saharan Africa.
Rob’s work in Africa has expanded over the last few years, in part through his position as the co-chair of the Transport Working Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. At the conference last week, he also gave an individual presentation entitled “Biodiversity-friendly surface transportation infrastructure: A global overview,” based on the recent activities of the working group.
Fernanda Abra, a Brazilian Ph.D. student who has conducted wildlife research with a leading WTI road ecologist for nearly a decade, is one of only three scientists worldwide to be selected for the 2019 Future For Nature Award, announced on February 19.
A few months ago, eight young conservationists from around the world were nominated for the Future For Nature Award. The nominees came from Brazil, India, Nepal, The Netherlands, Nigeria, the Philippines, Rwanda, and the United Kingdom. Today, the three award winners were announced: Fernanda Abra (Brazil), Divya Karnad (India), and Olivier Nsengimana (Rwanda). Fernanda Abra has a long-term connection with Montana and is currently working in Missoula with one of her PhD advisors, Dr. Marcel Huijser.
The Future For Nature Foundation (FFN) is a Dutch organization that supports young, talented and ambitious conservationists, committed to protecting wild animals and wild plant species. FFN states that “The commitment of these individuals is what will make the difference for the future of nature. Through their leadership they inspire and mobilize communities, organizations, governments, investors and the public at large.”
Every year, three awards are available to young conservationists from all over the world. The Award offers the winners international recognition, financial support of 50,000 Euros to carry out their work, and the opportunity to work with an international network of conservationists.
Ms. Abra is a PhD student in the Applied Ecology program at “Luiz de Queiroz” College of Agriculture, University of São Paulo (ESALQ/USP). Her advisors are Dr. Kátia Ferraz (professor at ESALQ/USP, Department of Forest Science, LEMaC Wildlife Ecology, Management and Conservation Lab) and Dr. Marcel Huijser (research ecologist at the Western Transportation Institute, Montana State University).
“As a researcher, Fernanda has already made a positive impact on species conservation in Brazil. For her PhD she is generating knowledge on the number of road-killed mammals, understanding their spatial and temporal patterns, and developing tools to reduce the huge impact of roads and traffic on Brazil’s biodiversity. The combination of hard work and determination will result in reduced unnatural mortality of mammals and reduced habitat fragmentation caused by transportation infrastructure,” Said Dr. Katia Ferraz.
Interested in Road Ecology since 2009, Ms. Abra is now in the final stages of her PhD research. Her work focuses on animal-vehicle collisions along highways in São Paulo State and implications for biological conservation, human safety, and the economy. Dr. Marcel Huijser of the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University has worked with Ms. Abra for nearly nine years, overseeing her 2010 internship on the wildlife mitigation study along US Hwy 93 on the Flathead Indian Reservation, as well as advising on both her Masters research and her PhD in Brazil. Through her work with Dr. Huijser she has been fortunate to be able to study and apply some of the lessons learned from Montana’s investment in wildlife crossing structures along highways and animal detection systems in the region.
As Dr. Huijser explains:“Fernanda has long term vision, concrete goals, and the political savvy to get things done. When I first met her in 2010, she realized that local expertise in road ecology was needed to manage the environmental impacts associated with Brazil’s quickly expanding transportation network. And she made this happen by securing funding for me to teach two graduate level road ecology courses and for two national conferences on transportation ecology. Thanks to her vision, hundreds of Brazilian students, researchers, and policy makers have been introduced to road ecology concepts. As a result, an increasing number of wildlife mitigation measures are being effectively implemented on the ground in Brazil.”
In addition to her academic research and work as a consultant, Ms. Abra volunteers as a road ecologist for several conservation projects including the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative and the Anteaters and Highways Project. She is also responsible for the road-ecology data in the National Action Plans for threatened canids, felids and ungulates, including iconic species such as the maned wolf, hoary fox, jaguar, puma, and lowland tapir.
Dr. Patricia Medici, coordinator of Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative in Brazil, Chair of Tapir Specialist Group of IUCN and Winner of the FFN Award in 2008 has worked with Ms. Abra for several years. She explains that: “Fernanda plays a key role in the conservation of Brazilian mammal species because she knows how to measure the extent of the road-kill impact, the barrier effect of transportation infrastructure, and, most importantly, she knows how to mitigate the problems. I find it very interesting how Fernanda feels confident and comfortable both doing fieldwork under tough conditions along highways and participating in technical and political meetings with professionals and authorities from environmental and transportation agencies. She is extremely versatile and knows how to keep that link between the world out there and the meeting rooms.”
FFN winners are truly inspiring young individuals, who are bringing creative and innovative solutions to pressing environmental problems. Ms. Abra’s win shines a light on the global impact of roads on wildlife and the leadership role that both Montana and Brazil are taking to mitigate these impacts for the benefit of people and wildlife.
In response to winning the award, Ms. Abra said: “I feel so fortunate to work with incredible species such as tapirs, giant anteaters, maned wolf, jaguar, and other Brazilian canids and felids, and to be advised and supported by respected researchers and conservationists! I´m honored to receive the Future For Nature Award – this will help upscale my efforts to work with stakeholders, implement on-the-ground projects, and help protect Brazil’s amazing biodiversity.”
The October issue of Current Biology will feature an article entitled “Roads threaten Asiatic cheetahs in Iran,” about the impacts of wildlife vehicle collisions on the endangered species (there are fewer than 50 free roaming cheetahs in the country). The authors reached out to WTI Research Ecologist Marcel Huijser to provide input and assistance on the road ecology components, and they recently contacted WTI to acknowledge Marcel’s “invaluable comments.” The final article is available online.
In September, the Infra Eco Network Europe (IENE) held its International Conference in the Netherlands, focusing on the theme of “Crossing borders for a greener and sustainable transport infrastructure.” WTI’s Road Ecology staff members were front and center throughout the 5-day event, presenting their research and experience on wildlife crossings, habitat connectivity, and related topics to more than 300 attendees from around the world.
Tony Clevenger had the distinction of presenting a keynote address on his 17 years of research in Banff National Park, which IENE described as “one of the best testing sites of innovative highway mitigation in the world.” He also gave a presentation on emerging wildlife mitigation and policy in Latin America. Rob Ament led a workshop and gave a presentation on the impact of international transportation policy on the development of wildlife friendly roads, and gave a “lightening talk” on the potential for using plastic bridges for wildlife crossings. Perhaps the busiest staff member at the conference, Marcel Huijser served on the planning committee for this international event, facilitated a workshop on wildlife mitigation performance, presented on wildlife crossing structures and fencing on US 93, led a lightening talk on the reliability of species identification data, and presented a poster on the impact of short and narrow roads on wildlife vehicle collisions.
When the Infra Eco Network Europe (IENE) meets for its International Conference this fall, one of the keynote speakers will be WTI Research Scientist Tony Clevenger. Tony will travel to the Netherlands in September to present “Through the lens of time: Long-term research integrating behavior, landscape ecology and conservation along the Trans-Canada Highway.” He will discuss his 17 years of research in Banff National Park, which IENE describes as “one of the best testing sites of innovative highway mitigation in the world.” Additional information about the conference and Tony’s presentation is available on the IENE conference website.