Determining the location for the installation of an animal pathway along a road that divides a forest is a crucial step. To ensure that the animal pathway is effectively utilized by animals after installation, thorough pre-survey and careful consideration in the surrounding forest are necessary.
Conduct a survey of the vegetation (types and distribution of plants) in the vicinity of the proposed pathway. If the plants used by the target animals are known, it is possible to narrow down the potential installation sites.
The Nihon Yamane Conservation Research Group has collaborated with plant experts through years of research to identify the tree species necessary for the survival of Yamane (Japanese mountain badger). Understanding the various plants used for feeding (flowers, bark, fruits, etc.), nesting, and movement, the group applies these findings in the selection of survey sites and guidance for the pathway after installation.
Examples of plants utilized by arboreal animals:
- Seeds and nuts as food sources: walnuts, acorns, pine cones, etc.
- Fruits as food sources: akebi, wild grapes, etc.
- Trees used for movement and nesting: larch, red pine, and other coniferous trees.
Ecological Survey of Animals
Conduct an ecological survey of wildlife at potential installation sites to assess the current utilization. This involves examining feeding traces, the presence of natural nests, and periodically surveying the usage of nest boxes.
While the site selection for the animal pathway in Kitami City proceeded smoothly due to its proximity to the research site of the Nihon Yamane Conservation Research Group, there are several challenges to consider for its future expansion in Japan and worldwide:
Standardization of survey and evaluation methods: Establishing standardized manuals for conducting surveys and evaluations related to animal pathway installations ensures consistency. This facilitates site selection and maintenance assessments across different regions.
Support and collaboration with local researchers and citizen groups: Collaborating with local researchers and citizen groups is crucial. Establishing support mechanisms and information sharing channels can facilitate smooth site selection and maintenance management.
Engaging with landowners: If the pathway is planned on private or municipal-owned lands, efforts should be made to gain the understanding and cooperation of landowners. Communication and information sharing with landowners can help garner their support.
Engagement with national parks and similar areas: If the animal pathway is to be installed within national parks or protected areas, collaboration with relevant agencies and organizations is essential. Initiating discussions and coordinating the necessary procedures for site selection and installation within these areas is important.