Typically, wildlife is negatively impacted by urban development and some species are even endangered due to habitat loss and fragmentation in urban areas. As such, green spaces in urban and periurban areas that are designed or designated with wildlife in mind can play a role in supporting wildlife populations in cities and towns.
The term wildlife corridor or linkage may apply to naturally-occurring or administratively-designated areas of land that have the potential to support the free movement of particular wildlife species between adjacent habitat areas. A corridor is typically a single conduit, whereas a linkage may have multiple connectivity pathways. Naturally-occurring corridor areas exist where geographic or topographic factors restrict movement to narrow areas of land, such as between mountains and water bodies. Designated wildlife movement corridors and linkages are areas of preferred habitat for a variety of wildlife species, where human activity is more strictly managed to support wildlife populations.
Conduct early research. Collection and analysis of data prior to land development is essential to develop a baseline, which can be used to design corridors and linkages. The baseline data can be used to compare against corridor/linkage effectiveness after development occurs and inform management decisions.
Use probability to map potential habitat. Incorporating data on actual locations of target wildlife species can help identify habitat that is most likely to support their populations. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can be used to generate maps that show potentially-preferred habitat conditions. This can inform the establishment of habitat conservation areas.
Understand how wildlife move. Wildlife move to find food, avoid predators, seek shelter, migrate and to find new home ranges in which to breed. Studies on the movement patterns of target species are necessary to determine the best layout and shape of wildlife habitat corridors and patches in the landscape. For example, it is important to know how readily target species cross gaps in corridors and how they respond to edge conditions.
Protect large habitat areas. Despite advances in corridor design research, it is critically important to keep and restore large, continuous blocks of habitat. Many species at risk in Alberta are averse to edge conditions and require adequately sized interior habitat to successfully reproduce.
It is important to understand the interactions among species using the same habitat. Sometimes focusing wildlife linkage creation on supporting large mammals (e.g., grizzly bears) can have benefits for other species, but in other situations there may be conflicts between species. Natural and human disturbances could render a corridor non-functional for wildlife, so it is prudent for land managers to plan for multiple corridor networks to link the same regional habitat patches. At least two functional primary corridors and one system of secondary corridors are recommended to link habitat to either side of a municipality.
Science-based guidelines can be integrated into the planning process for new development proposals and other projects as applicable. Planning for wildlife corridors and linkages includes the use of scientific research, consideration of designated trails within wildlife corridors, perpendicular crossings of linear developments within wildlife corridors, vegetation control for fire, disease and weed control, wildlife habitat management and education. Seeking advice from university researchers can help local governments make decisions with the best information available.
The Business Side
Protecting natural areas such as wildlife corridors and linkages creates more appealing communities, attracts residents and businesses and helps generate tourism revenue. Protecting wildlife and biodiversity in communities brings many economic benefits through the provision of ecosystem services that are valued at $125-140 trillion dollars per year globally, which is more than 150% of the world’s GDP.
The Nature Side
Creating effective, science-based wildlife linkages protects species at risk and biodiversity. Conserving species at risk and biodiversity provides multiple values to society, including the inherent value of wildlife, the belief that it is ethically necessary to prevent the extinction of species and many ecosystem services. These include greenhouse gas sequestration, water filtration, groundwater recharge, air purification and temperature and precipitation regulation. Genetic diversity of wildlife populations also helps contribute to disease resistance and healthier populations.
The Community Side
Carefully managed recreational opportunities may be possible in some wildlife linkages and corridors, depending on the needs of the particular species utilizing them. There are also numerous benefits nature on human health – physical, mental, and social. By ensuring natural spaces are conserved or created for the benefit of wildlife connectivity, this example of NBS can boost health outcomes for nearby residents. Proximity to green space, conservation areas and parks increases property values for homeowners and developers alike.
 Langechenier, M. 2018. Green Spaces, Urban Wildlife, and Human Impacts. Tree Canada.
 Gregory A, Spence E, Beier P, Garding E. 2021. Toward Best Management Practices for Ecological Corridors. Land. 10(2):140.
 Chetkiewicz, C., Cassady St. Clair, C., & Boyce, M. 2006. Corridors for Conservation: Integrating Pattern and Process. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics. 37:317-342.
 OECD. 2019. Biodiversity: Finance and the Economic and Business Case for Action, report prepared for the G7 Environment Ministers’ Meeting, 5-6 May 2019.
Chetkiewicz, C., Cassady St. Clair, C., & Boyce, M. 2006. Corridors for Conservation: Integrating Pattern and Process. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics. 37:317-342.
Gregory A, Spence E, Beier P, Garding E. 2021. Toward Best Management Practices for Ecological Corridors. Land. 10(2):140.
OECD. 2019. Biodiversity: Finance and the Economic and Business Case for Action, report prepared for the G7 Environment Ministers’ Meeting, 5-6 May 2019.
Primeau, S., Bell, M., Riopel, M., Ewaschuk, E., & Doell, D. 2009. Green Communities Guide: Tools to Help Restore Ecological Processes in Alberta’s Built Environments. Land Stewardship Centre of Canada.