Road building threatens our forests, natural habitats and the people who depend on them.
With your help, we can keep wilderness RoadFree.
95% of forest loss occurs within 50 km of a road.
From the Amazon to Indonesian and Congo Basin forests, roads are penetrating deep into the wilderness.
Roads fragment natural habitats, degrade forest ecosystems, and put local communities and wildlife at risk.
Working with the most up to date, high-resolution satellite images, we have identified wild areas that remain untouched by human activities and that urgently require protection. These maps are a crucial tool to help decision-makers rethink road building, and with us, promote more sustainable options and better infrastructure planning.
The roadfree areas map is the fruit of collaboration between Google, the Society for Conservation Biology, and Member of the European Parliament and Rapporteur on forests, Kriton Arsenis. Most of the time we use maps to know which roads will get us from point A to point B, but the same information can help us produce a powerful tool for nature conservation.
Every green pixel of the map is at least 10km from the nearest road. It shows very concretely Earth’s terrestrial areas free of roads including forests, polar regions and deserts.
The situation is particularly dramatic in forest areas where the spread of road networks has fragmented natural habitats, endangering intact ecosystems and forest dependant populations.
To explore the roadfree map yourself, visit the Google Earth Engine Map Gallery.
With around 100 species disappearing every day, concerted action is needed in order to curb this unprecedented decline. RoadFree supports a number of Aichi targets in order to halt biodiversity loss.
Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have set ambitious targets (Aichi targets) to prevent dramatic biodiversity loss by 2020. Keeping forests road free, and preventing fragmentation of natural habitats, RoadFree contributes to achieving several of these Aichi targets:
Correctly implemented, the UN programme to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), can benefit biodiversity, the climate, forest communities as well as the rest of humanity.
Roadless areas are a powerful guarantee against deforestation and forest degradation. They can also help measure the performances of REDD+ activities.
The UN programme aimed at Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) is often presented as a relatively cost-effective climate change mitigation strategy.
If done with the correct level of enforceable environmental and social safeguards, controls and regulations, this programme has the potential to protect biodiversity, people, and the climate.
The future of REDD+ is negotiated under various UNFCCC bodies and its future depends on the following points:
In tropical areas, satellite and land based data indicate that the opening of a new road through a forest is generally followed by the building of secondary roads (paved or unpaved) that will then trigger more degradation and deforestation (conversion to agriculture or ranching). Scientific reports agree on the fact that the majority of deforestation, fragmentation and forest degradation occurs in a “risk-zone” around infrastructure and access networks.
By promoting a global protection of roadless areas, RoadFree addresses roadbuilding as one of the major drivers of deforestation and forest degradation. The initiative also proposes to use existing roads and road development, as a negative performance indicator for the five activities encompassed by REDD+: deforestation, forest degradation, conservation, management, enhancement of forest carbon stock.
The global road infrastructure makes a huge footprint on the surface of the Earth with a growth of 60% above 2010 levels expected by 2050. As 90% of this growth will occur in developing nations, multilateral investors have a major responsibility to prevent roads impacting on rich ecosystems found in wild areas.
Road Alert reports on destructive roadbuilding projects cutting through intact forests worldwide, and gathers individuals and groups acting to keep these wild places road free. Learn from their stories.
A collection of updates from the RoadFree campaign as well as a selection of global news articles covering roadbuilding stories in the context of forest protection.
May 19 2014
At first, logging companies build roads to access concessions. They bring equipment, goods and villagers start using these access roads. But what happens once the logging companies are gone? In Sarawak forest, Malaysia, shorty after logging operations ceased, "the trip [to the next village] used to take four hours; today it takes nine".Read more in Inside Story:
April 01 2014
Mongabay continues with its series of interviews and asks forest experts what is the next big idea in forest conservation. For Philip Fearnside, one of the world´s most-cited scientist in the area of sustainable development: "Much more attention needs to be given to forest degradation, as by logging, fires and edge effects. Almost everyone has been concentrating on outright deforestation instead."Read full interview on Mongabay
March 20 2014
BRUSSELS, 20 March 2014 – On the eve of the 2nd International Day of Forests on Friday, March 21st, scientists join MEP Kriton Arsenis in calling for an urgent response to the threats from road development to the world’s last intact primary forests.Read the full press release in our press section
February 06 2014
We already know that there’s a connection between coca growing and deforestation. But now, a new article published in Science explains how North-America's militarised drug policies have lead to drug traffickers moving deeper into Central and South American forests, where clandestine roadbuilding and money laundering generates further impacts to both the forest and its inhabitants.Read more on Science Daily
January 21 2014
The more economies depend on trade, the more roads are built and threathen natural habitats. The Initiative for the Integration of the Regional Infrastructure of South America (IIRSA), in which Brazil is major player, is no exemption.Read more
January 14 2014
Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant reports on the impact that roads and infrastructure have on the environment and on local people living nearby. The writer of this thorough article also touches upon ways to develop better methods for spatial planning and alternatives to roads (article in Dutch).Read more
January 13 2014
At 4,000km long, the so-called "road to progress” has been source of conflict between the communities living along it since it was built in the early 70s. Recently, violent clashes have broken out between Teharim native Indians and non-indigenous settlers. The turmoil is fuelled by the lack of compensation for the appropriation of the Tenharim land in order to construct the road.Read more on The Independent
December 26 2013
The planned US$130-billion network of infrastructure projects, known as IIRSA, Initiative for the Integration of the Regional Infrastructure of South America, aimed to link South America's economies has so far failed to respect indigenous peoples and environmental laws.Read more on The Guardian
December 20 2013
The RoadFree Initiative offers a path to protect forests, reduce emissions, and monitor REDD+ progressRead more on UNEarth news
December 18 2013
The rules governing UN REDD+ programme were agreed at last month’s UN climate talks in Warsaw. We have identified several opportunities for the future of roadfree forests in the agreed REDD+ package.Read more
December 16 2013
Images taken by National Geographic photographers while reporting on the stunning biodiversity in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador, show that oil companies have been secretly building roads at the heart of the park.Read more on Mongabay
December 12 2013
December 16: RoadFree Initiative joins top experts on road-building impacts during this one day symposium in Utrecht (The Netherlands). Library Utrecht University, Boothzaal, Heidelberglaan 3.Read more
November 19 2013
This COP19 side event aims at putting the protection of roadfree areas at the forefront of international efforts to halt deforestation. The presentations will focus on recent findings related to roadbuilding impacts on deforestation and forest degradation...read more on our press section
November 04 2013
Land losses blamed as study shows Guarani-Kaiowá are 34 times more likely to kill themselves than Brazil's national average.Read more on the Guardian
October 29 2013
Roads are rapidly expanding across the Brazilian Amazon opening up once remote rainforests to loggers, miners, ranchers, farmers, and land speculators, finds a new study published in the journal Regional Environmental.Read more on Mongabay
October 23 2013
The European Parliament agrees to raise the issue of roadbuilding in intact forests at the UN Climate Change Conference to be held next month in Warsaw (Poland); it calls on parties to use the existence of roads in forest areas as an early negative performance indicator of REDD+ projects, and to prioritise the allocation of REDD+ funds towards road free forests...Read the full press release in our press section
October 03 2013
France looks into bribery allegations against Vinci Russian unitRead more on Reuters
October 02 2013
On October 6th and 7th, RoadFree will be present at the 10th World Wilderness Congress in Salamanca to celebrate and debate on the world's wildernessesRead more
September 26 2013
A man-made reservoir in Thailand has given biologists the opportunity to measure the speed of mammal extinctions and it happens fast!Read more on New York Times
RoadFree aims to halt the expansion of roads into Earth's last wild places.
RoadFree was initiated in 2012 by Member of the European Parliament Kriton Arsenis. It functions as a platform to facilitate synergies between citizen movements, NGOs and institutions who have chosen cost-efficient solutions to protect the environment.
We invite you to be a part of the effort.