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Pro-Wildlife Engineering Projects that are making a difference

Updated: Jul 5

In the world today, some major improvements are being made to improve the opportunities for both people and wildlife to flourish.


In the US, many highways span the entire country and can represent barriers for healthy wildlife populations that once migrated across the landscape. 


Technology can be implemented to reduce unfortunate mishaps with wildlife and keep everyone as happy as can be. 


Here are five interesting pro-wildlife engineering projects that are making a difference in wildlife populations!


The Highway 101 Wildlife Landbridge 


In California, Highway 101 runs from Los Angeles north through the santa monica mountains and along the coastal hills. The hill country and coastal mountains house many different kinds of wildlife that have been threatened by encroaching human development. This encroachment has caused decreases in populations numbers and diversity because the roads divide the habitat of some animals into smaller pieces and cause obstacles for migrating wildlife. 


The land bridge over Highway 101 is designed to reduce strain on wildlife by providing a safe crossing over Highway 101. By incorporating wildlife cameras and studies, scientists have been able to reconnect wildlife populations that were otherwise segmented into smaller groups by highways. These roads are significant barriers for wildlife because of high traffic and fast moving vehicles. By developing a bridge for wildlife, the populations that were once genetically segregated have been able to connect together. This expands the home range of some populations of wildlife. 


Facial Recognition for Wildlife


Although facial recognition is used for human identification n a regular bases, the same technology can be applied to wildlife populations to help reduce poaching and ensure healthy studies of populations without expensive and invasive tagging and collaring studies. 


By installing facial recognition cameras in wildlife areas, some conservation biologists have been able to identify individual animals and promote healthier populations by discovering how many individuals live in a region. Facial recognition can be used to ensure that poachers get caught with animals that are specifically identifiable. 


Artificial Intelligence for Wildlife Population Management


AI for analyzing populations can be applied in many ways. One of the most significant ways that AI can be helpful is through mapping and statistical analysis. We can determine the specific home range of some animals by using real-time data to find where animals are concentrated. This technology has been able to identify new information about breeding habits, migration paths, and more. 


Artificial intelligence models can analyze the landscape using maps and charts to determine where wildlife populations are most likely to be. This information helps conservationists make tag limits for some animals or can be utilized to create better policy regarding animals that are threatened or may pose a threat to agriculture or farm animals. 


For instance, AI models can be used to recognize individuals by their spots or patterns on their bodies. Applied to trout and whale sharks, this recognition software can be applied to assess the health of populations that are present in oceans, lakes, and rivers. By recognizing individual fish or sharks or others, we can observe wildlife populations without costly tagging and without injuring the wildlife itself. 


Artificial Reefs made of Decommissioned Vessels and Other Materials


An Artificial Reefs aren’t fake, but are placed in a specific location to benefit wildlife populations that may be at risk of habitat loss. In some cases, a protected zone of the ocean can be created through policy, and in others, the protection is physical through the installation of habitat. Some habitat can be designed in small spaces for small populations, and other installations are massive ecological engineering projects. 


Sea Turtle over a reef

One of the biggest artificial reefs in the world is the USS Oriskany which is a decommissioned WWII Aircraft Carrier that was intentionally sunk off of the coast of Pensacola Florida in 2006. This reef has grown to house over 40 species of fish and even more reef and coral structures. Recreational diving is pristine and the wildlife populations surrounding the reef have grown over the last 18 years to a healthy ecosystem based around the artificial reef structure. 


In California, artificial reefs are installed to support kelp growth and preserve kelp forests as much as possible. In the case of the Wheeler North Reef made out of rocky outcroppings made by pushing large boulders off of barges near San Diego is one of the largest reefs, spanning over 370 acres. 


In June of 2024, an artificial reef made of concrete triangular structures was installed in Mexico to help threatened and over pressured fish species by providing habitat that will last indefinitely. These projects require great works of engineering to ensure that positive impacts are realized. In some cases, these artificial reefs serve more than one purpose and act as a wave break, preventing excessive wave energy from eroding the coastal beaches that some homes are built on. By developing these reefs, we are promoting healthy wildlife and creating safer beaches. 


The Great Green Wall of the Sahara Desert


One of the worlds largest ecosystem engineering projects is incredibly ambitious and hasthe potential to change an entire continent. The great green wall of Africa is an ecosystem project aimed at slowing the desertification process in the southern sahara desert. This project aims to plant a line of trees spanning the width of africa aiming to reduce encroaching sand. The project is an international effort and is heling wildlife across Africa maintain healthy habitat. 


Desertification occurs when sand blows into green areas and reduces the nutrients of the soil, eventually leading to a loss of greenery. The great green wall, already underway, is a project that faces extreme conditions and challenges from political and anti-political organizations. Faced with setbacks like terrorism, brutal heat, and a lack of funding, this project is one of the moost significant efforts reducing ecological damage. By creatng a green wall across the desert of Africa, the hope is to create healthy landscapes that promote both human and wildlife populations. 



These engineering projects range from local bridges to massive intercontinental projects reaching across countries. The potential benefits to wildlife are incalculable. With this knowledge, we can see that efforts to heal our landscape must be equal in scale and scope to the landscape itself, vast. 


Thanks for reading!

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