Alternative routes for a proposed Nigerian superhighway to limit damage to rare ecosystems and wildlife

Mahmoud, Mahmoud I., Sloan, Sean, Campbell, Mason, Alamgir, Mohammed, Imong, Inaoyom, Odigha, Odigha, Chapman, Hazel, Dunn, Andrew, and Laurance, William F. (2017) Alternative routes for a proposed Nigerian superhighway to limit damage to rare ecosystems and wildlife. Tropical Conservation Science, 10. pp. 1-10.

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The Cross River State Government in Nigeria is proposing to construct a "Cross River Superhighway" that would bisect critical remaining areas of tropical rainforest in south eastern Nigeria. We offer and evaluate two alternative routes to the superhighway that would be less damaging to forests, protected areas, and biological diversity. The first alternative we identified avoids intact forests entirely while seeking to benefit agriculture and existing settlements. The second alternative also avoids intact forests while incorporating existing paved and unpaved roads to limit construction costs. As currently proposed, the superhighway would be 260 km long, would intersect 115 km of intact forests or protected areas, and would cost an estimated US$2.5 billion to construct. Alternative Routes 1 and 2 are only slightly longer (290 and 353 km, respectively) and have markedly lower estimated construction costs (US$0.92 billion). Furthermore, the alternative routes would have negligible impacts on forests and protected areas and would be better aligned to benefit local communities and agriculture. We argue that alternative routings such as those we examined here could markedly reduce the economic and environmental costs, and potentially increase the socioeconomic benefits, for the proposed Cross River Superhighway.

Item ID: 48965
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1940-0829
Keywords: Cross River National Park, Cross River State, equatorial Africa, habitat fragmentation, highway, Nigeria, protected areas, superhighway, tropical rainforest
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Creative Commons Non Commercial CC BY-NC: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

Funders: Arcus Foundation, James Cook University, Wildlife Conservation Society, Nigeria, Canterbury University
Date Deposited: 25 May 2017 02:25
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410402 Environmental assessment and monitoring @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 25%
33 BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN > 3304 Urban and regional planning > 330499 Urban and regional planning not elsewhere classified @ 25%
SEO Codes: 88 TRANSPORT > 8801 Ground Transport > 880106 Road Infrastructure and Networks @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960501 Ecosystem Assessment and Management at Regional or Larger Scales @ 50%
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