A biologic or ecologic corridor is a route or a strip of vegetation that allows for the flow (movement) of plants and/or animals from one region to another, favoring the permanence, connectivity and migration between patches of vegetation.
Therefore, an ecological corridor allows the exchange of genetic material between populations to maintain their genetic variability, in such a way that they can persist, thrive and develop.
Connectivity Corridors Importance and Characteristics
Ecological corridors protect biodiversity, because they extend the conservation area; for example, rare and threatened species such as the spectacled bear, the highland tapir, and those that have a wide range of distribution such as the jaguar and puma, are favored by having a greater area for movement and basic needs (feeding, reproduction, ecological processes).
Furthermore, they help control flooding, sedimentation, provide clean water to the surrounding population, provide protection against agroforestry production, act as windbreaks for crops and livestock, control erosion and prevent desertification. Likewise, they promote recreation and ecotourism activities (Forman, 1995).
Ecological corridors promote efficiency regarding the movements of species from one place to another, especially when their habitats are interrupted by human activities.
They protect core areas of vegetation (that can be protected areas) and maintain ecological and evolutionary processes that are generated within an ecosystem (Forman, 1995).
Ecological Corridors and Protected Areas
The process of fragmentation of the natural scenery is generally produced by human activities such as colonization and extraction of natural resources, originating patches of vegetation among which there is little or no connectivity.
This process is known as “insularity” and reduces genetic variability of species, generating lessening of population or even their extinction. An ecological corridor connects habitats that have been isolated, permitting that their populations can move from one place to another to maintain their long term genetic variability.
This process occurs when one or several protected areas become separated by barriers that are product of human activities, such as the building of roads, crops growing areas, settlements, hydroelectric projects, etc. The rivers and streams are not considered insurmountable barriers by some groups of animals (especially birds). In the case of rivers, if they are not very fast flowing, the natural barrier is not extremely dangerous so that an animal with good dispersion capacity, can venture and cross the river. Additionally, because of the vegetation characteristics near rivers, they are usually safe and can provide nourishment. Therefore, it is safer to cross a river than to cross a road or crops and pastures.