Roads are a double-edged sword that can both help and harm.

road clearing

New roads can be treacherous — even fatal — for wildlife, native forests, and the global environment.

That’s why my team at the Centre for Tropical Environmental Sustainability and Science, where we’re studying the impact of roads on wildlife and ecosystems, put together these two short videos.

First up is “Why Roads Are So Dangerous,” which shows how the first cut into a pristine habitat can create an unstoppable wave of changes.

Our second video, “Why Roads are Like Pandora’s Box,” shows that new roads can also be surprisingly dangerous for human economies and societies.

Many people advocate for roads, believing they will bring wealth, jobs, and myriad other benefits.

But few appreciate the full story. Roads are neither entirely good nor bad: they are a double-edged sword.

It’s essential to see both sides of the blade.

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William Laurance

is a Distinguished Research Professor and Australian Laureate at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia. A tropical environmental scientist, he has written eight books and over 600 scientific and popular articles. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and has received many professional honors, including the Heineken Environment Prize, BBVA Frontiers in Conservation Biology Award, the Society for Conservation Biology’s Distinguished Service Award, and the Zoological Society of London’s Outstanding Conservation Achievement Award. He is director of the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science at James Cook University, and founded and directs ALERT — the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers & Thinkers — a science-advocacy group. He is a four-time winner of Australia’s Best Science Writing Prize.

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  • Jeff

    Like everything else humans do to benefit themselves, the ONLY good that can come from roads is benefits to some humans. Roads ARE entirely bad for all other species and for ecosystems, contrary to what this short essay claims.

    • Noel Johnson

      “Avoid the first cut !”