• 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
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.

German broadcaster sues Turkey over confiscated video
Akif Cagatay Kilic. Photo: DPA

German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle said Monday it had filed a civil complaint after a Turkish minister's office confiscated a taped video interview with him.

Germany's 'James Bond' goes on trial over tax evasion
Werner Mauss. Photo: DPA.

Germany's former top spy, Werner Mauss, went on trial on Monday accused of hiding millions of euros from authorities.

Germany holds first national 'mermaiding' championship
Photo: DPA

Ariel would be proud.

Gallery
15 pics that prove Germany is totally enchanting in autumn
The Max-Eyth-See in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA.

As summer fades into a distant memory and you start to begrudge trading Birkenstocks for boots, these pictures may help change your perspective on the new chill in the air.

Left politician who smuggled refugee could lose immunity
Diether Dehm. Photo: DPA.

Die Linke (Left Party) politician Diether Dehm could lose his immunity as an elected official after he admitted to smuggling a refugee into Germany.

Merkel party leader admits sexism is a problem
Jenna Behrends complained that a member of CDU's Berlin government had called her a "big sweet mouse" in front of a large group. Photo: Sophia Kembowski/dpa

A leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party admitted Sunday that it has a problem with sexism in its ranks.

Ethiopia's Bekele nears record in Berlin marathon win
Participants in the Berlin marathon take to the streets on Sunday. Photo:Paul Zinken/dpa

Kenenisa Bekele narrowly missed out on the world record on Sunday as the Ethiopian won the Berlin marathon ahead of former winner Wilson Kipsang.

Europe needs deals to send migrants home: Merkel
Angela Merkal poses with Bulgaria's Prime minister Boyko Borissov (L) and Austrian chancellor Christian Kern (R) in Vienna. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

Europe needs to secure more deals to send rejected migrants home, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told counterparts in Vienna.

Germany sees 'turning point' in birth rate decline
Children at a a kindergarten in Swabia. Photo: Nikolaus Lenau/Flickr

Is Germany's three-decade decline in birth rate now over?

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
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
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
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
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
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
5,643
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd