• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Germany spends millions on animal-only bridges

The Local · 18 Sep 2013, 16:32

Published: 18 Sep 2013 16:32 GMT+02:00

Gerhard Klesen, a forester employed by the Ruhr Regional Association, spent a decade campaigning for an animal-only bridge to be built over a motorway in the town of Schermbeck in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Man-made barriers such as roads and canals restrict animals' natural movement, he said. That limits genetic diversity, which in turn leads to an increase in disease and shortened lifespans. The ‘Green Bridges’ are designed to counteract this effect.

"The area of land east of the motorway at Schermbeck is much smaller than that on the western side," Klesen told The Local. That's led to a decrease in species diversity on the eastern side, prompting Klesen to launch his ten-year campaign, which culminated in the opening of the "green bridge" - Germany's 35th - exactly a year ago.

But it was not always an easy sell. "Bridges cost a lot of money," Klesen said. However the determined forester persisted in his campaign, which got a financial boost from the Netherlands in 2005, where such bridges are relatively commonplace. "They're way ahead of us there," Klesen told The Local.

Both federal and EU funding followed and in September 2012, the €4.5 million, 2,700 square-metre bridge opened to animals.

"It usually takes a year before an animal dares to cross the green bridge," Klesen said. But the animals of Schermbeck are a plucky bunch. "One red stag traversed the bridge just three days after it was opened," Klesen said. Others followed suit and within a few days, boars were making the journey too.

Cameras set up along the bridge have captured a variety of creatures, including rabbits, foxes and bats, making their way across the specially-designed terrain.

"There are strips of sand just for insects, as well as grass, shrubs and other vegetation providing food and shelter to some of the smaller creatures," said Klesen.

Some animals, like mice, take to life in transit so much that they set up their permanent homes on the bridge. Others travel back and forth. Stags in particular often make the journey in search of a mate.

Story continues below…

Although it will take decades to assess whether the bridge is managing to promote genetic diversity and health among bigger animals, the effects on smaller animals with shorter lifespan could be studied soon.

READ MORE: Tiger kills zookeeper during feeding time

Kate Ferguson

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Pegida take to Dresden streets - to march against Pegida
Pegida demonstrators. Photo: DPA

Followers of the xenophobic Pegida movement marched in two factions on Monday evening in the capital of Saxony, brandishing fierce accusations of treason against one another.

Analysis
Is it fair to call the AfD far right?
AfD leaders, from left, Georg Pazderski, Frauke Petry and Jörg Meuthen. Photo: DPA.

The AfD has been dubbed "far-right" over the past year as it has taken on a tougher stance against immigration and made gains in state elections. But at what point does one call a group far-right?

Dresden police guard Islamic buildings after mosque attack
The Dresden mosque that was hit by a homemade bomb attack on Monday. Photo: DPA.

All Islamic buildings in the capital of Saxony have been put under police protection on Tuesday after explosive devices were detonated at a mosque and a congress centre in the city.

Germany blocks WhatsApp data transfers to Facebook
Photo: DPA

German data protection authorities on Tuesday said they had blocked Facebook from collecting subscriber data from its subsidiary WhatsApp, citing privacy concerns.

Stuttgart fest pulls in twice as many boozers as Oktoberfest
Is this Oktoberfest or is this Stuttgart's Cannstatter Volksfest? Can you tell the difference? Well, it's Stuttgart. Photo: DPA.

Apparently Munich is no longer the top place to wear lederhosen and down beer one litre at a time.

The Local List
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Photo: DPA

These films are so good, not even The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari made the list.

Young man destroys 17 cars after visiting Oktoberfest

Early on Monday morning a drunk 29-year-old trashed 17 cars after staggering out of Oktoberfest into the Munich streets. It was one of several eye-popping crimes from "Wiesn" over the past few days.

VW emissions scandal
Audi tech chief leaves after reports link him to 'dieselgate'
Audi's head of technical development Stefan Knirsch stepped down on Monday. Photo: DPA.

Audi's head of technical development stepped down "with immediate effect" on Monday, the luxury carmaker announced, after German media accused him of involvement in parent company Volkswagen's "dieselgate" scandal.

Deutsche Bank shares hit lowest level in quarter century
Photo: DPA.

Shares in Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest lender, sank to a historic low on Monday after reports at the weekend that Berlin had refused state aid for the embattled lender.

The Local List
The 10 worst German cities for students to find digs
Photo: DPA

It's the start of autumn, which means the start of the university year. But along with the excitement comes the stress of finding housing - and in some glamorous locations this can be a nightmare.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
6,591
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd