Traffication develops a bold new idea: that the trillions of miles of driving we do each year are just as destructive to our natural environment as any of the better-known threats, such as habitat loss or intensive farming. The problem is not simply one of roadkill; the impacts of roads are far more pervasive, and they impact our wildlife in many subtle and unpredictable ways.
Using the latest research, the book reveals how road traffic shatters essential biological processes, affecting how animals communicate, move around, feed, reproduce and die. Most importantly, it shows that the influence of traffic extends well beyond the verge, and that a busy road can strip the wildlife from our countryside for miles around. In the UK, almost nowhere is exempt from this environmental toll. Yet the final message here is one of hope: by identifying the car as a major cause of the catastrophic loss of wildlife, the solutions to our biodiversity crisis suddenly become much clearer.
The first step to solving any problem is to recognise that it exists in the first place. But with road traffic, we are not even at that crucial initial stage in our recovery. Quite simply, Traffication does for road traffic what Silent Spring did for agrochemicals: awakening us from our collective road blindness and opening up a whole new chapter in conservation. This urgent book is an essential contribution to the debate on how we restore the health of our countryside – and of our own minds and bodies.
Preface: Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre
A note on units, definitions and data sources
1. The King of the Road
3. ‘An Inconspicuous Splotch of Red’
4. Living with Roadkill
5. Traffic Islands and Invasion Highways
6. Thunder Road
7. Emission Creep
8. In the Zone
9. The Sixth Horseman
10. Winners and Losers
11. Five Reasons for Hope
12. The Road to De-Traffication
List of scientific names
Paul Donald worked in the research department of the RSPB for over twenty years, latterly as Principal Scientist, before moving to BirdLife International as Senior Scientist. He is a recipient of the prestigious ZSL/Marsh Award for Conservation Science and an Honorary Research Fellow of the University of Cambridge.
"Traffication tells the story of how quickly the car transformed our world and how, equally quickly, scientists highlighted the downsides. But despite several decades of growing evidence, the impact of traffic on the environment remains focused upon congestion, climate change and air pollution, while ignoring the more rural issues that impact directly on nature. The author offers beautiful, heart felt writing and some hopeful concluding chapters."
– Baroness Jenny Jones, UK Green Party
"Remarkable! An immensely readable eye-opener. How could we have been so unaware of something so obvious and so damaging to wildlife?"
– Tim Birkhead, author of Birds and Us
"Traffication is a book to slow down for: provocative, eye-opening and painstakingly researched. It's going to make me rethink the ways we impact our planet through one of the most simple of acts."
– Stephen Rutt, author of The Eternal Season and The Seafarers
"As the realisation of our treatment of the earth grows, a reassessment is underway, and Traffication adds a new and vital dimension. The benefits and the conveniences of the car are weighed against the devastating toll on wildlife and our own health and, increasingly, it doesn't add up – but is it possible to see a different future? This book says it is. A masterful analysis of a hugely important elephant-in-the-room topic, humanity's addiction to the car."
– Mary Colwell, author of Curlew Moon and Beak, Tooth & Claw
"Paul Donald's Traffication is undoubtedly one of the environmental books of 2023. With perfect timing and tone, the author takes us through several essential learning curves and shows us how the car crisis, which most conservationists have long missed, is overwhelming large parts of nature. I could not recommend it more highly."
– Mark Cocker, author of One Midsummer's Day
"A brilliant and comprehensive expose of what roads are doing to our wildlife: meticulous, persuasive, challenging and brilliantly researched."
– Ben Macdonald, author of Rebirding and Cornerstones
"We know that traffic kills people through injuries, air pollution, and inactivity, but Paul Donald shows with convincing science in his very readable book how, almost unnoticed, traffic has been destroying wildlife and the countryside. He shows too how we can take action that should not be painful."
– Richard Smith, chair of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change
"Everyone who cares about nature should read this book."
– James Rebanks, author of The Shepherd's Life and English Pastoral
"A very informed, impressive book. Essential for understanding the horrifying impact of roads and motor vehicles on nature."
– Derek Gow, author of Bringing Back the Beaver
"This book gives a well-researched and engagingly written account of what is arguably one of the major conservation issues of our time. In drawing attention to the greatly underestimated problems posed to wildlife and the wider environment by our ever-increasing road networks, traffic volumes and speeds, Paul Donald provides an important wake-up call, and importantly, discusses mitigating measures."
– Professor Ian Newton FRS, ornithologist and conservationist
"A meticulously-researched exposé of how we've been asleep at the wheel for years. This is a thought-provoking, and brave, examination of the damage we've caused that will hopefully jolt us from complacency and help us to modify our road-building and driving behaviour for the benefit of wildlife and human health. Traffication is the conservation conundrum we need to address with urgency."
– Dr Ruth Tingay, conservationist and co-director of Wild Justice
"We normally think of road transport as an urban problem but the creeping harm from traffic is suffocating our rural environment like an invasive species. This carefully researched book completely reframes the way that we should view traffic and highlights a blind spot for many conservation organisations."
– Dr Gary Fuller, author of The Invisible Killer: The Rising Global Threat of Air Pollution
"Every so often, a book comes along that has a profound impact on how we think and "do" transport. Traffication is one of those books, showing how the narrow focus on making car travel easier and faster is fundamentally harming the systems that wildlife depends on and restricting nature into tighter and tighter pockets. It's a really readable, clear and compelling case to put the countryside more at the heart of how we manage our transport system."
– Richard Hebditch, UK Director, Transport and Environment