During her undergraduate study in Biology, Fernanda developed an interest for the frequent accidents between mammals and vehicles. She is committed to reducing the huge impact of roads and traffic on Brazilian biodiversity ever since. Fernanda started working as a road ecologist researcher and practitioner in 2009, conducting original research and synthesizing existing data about the effects of roads on wildlife as well as the effectiveness of mitigation measures. In July 2019 she will defend her PhD thesis; “Mammal-vehicle collisions along toll roads in São Paulo State: Implications for wildlife, human safety and costs to society“. In 2014, Fernanda founded ViaFAUNA, a consulting company that is specialized in wildlife management along roads, railroads and at airports. Through ViaFAUNA, she coordinates more than 30 road ecology projects, including nine strategic plans to mitigate mammal roadkill along highways throughout Brazil. Her target species are Brazilian threatened canids, felids, xenarthrans and ungulates.
Vision and Approach
The greatest threats to species conservation are loss of habitat, habitat degradation and unnatural mortality. Brazil has 1.720.000 km of roads, and this has a huge impact on the Brazilian biodiversity. It is affecting vital ecosystem services, animal movements, and unnatural mortality through collisions. Despite this, it is not Fernanda’s intention to fight the building of (new) roads, but to minimize their effect on wildlife through efficient land management. By designing, locating and tailoring road networks, Fernanda aims to minimize the negative effects and to re-establish functional and structural connectivity between the habitat patches fragmented by roads.
“I want to dedicate my life and my career to making thousands of these types of structures happen across Brazil, and who knows.. for South America?” – Fernanda Abra
- Made possible by the financial support from FFN, Fernanda will set up road ecology training courses for state and federal environmental and transportation agencies in the Cerrado and Atlantic Forest biomes in Brazil. This training will directly improve the quality and quantity of mitigation measures strategies to reduce road-mortality and improve connectivity in 20 states of Brazil.
- Fernanda will develop a data-based strategy to mitigate roadkill and the barrier effects of highways in specific locations. Data-based strategies are more likely tobe implemented, which in turn can improve population viability for the target
- The FFN-award will give a boost to Fernanda’s ability to expand her work on the state and national levels, making it possible to implement smarter, less impacting transportation systems that respect Brazil’s extraordinary biodiversity.
“This work is innovative and addressing a real and emerging threat that is going to have implications at a global scale. Infrastructure is an enormous threat that is going to grow exponentially in biodiversity-rich countries over the next decades. Fernanda’s work anticipates this threat and in a solid and science-based way is providing evidence and concrete solutions.” – Annette Lanjouw, International Selection Committee