Roads Filter: A strategic analysis of road projects in the Amazon

The Roads Filter is an analysis tool developed by Conservation Strategy Fund to support conservation and sustainable development. The tool uses a comparative index that considers the environmental, economic, social and cultural implications of road construction projects. It can be used throughout the Amazon region to inform decision makers about a project’s risk levels and possible impacts. In 2011, we applied the Roads Filter to 36 proposed roads in the region. The overall ranking of these roads can be seen here: The tool goes beyond traditional economic risk analysis, employing a multi-criteria approach that integrates a set of wide-ranging factors into a single index. Its flexible ranking system provides improved guidance for strategic decisions on how to prioritize conservation efforts and transportation spending. The Filter considers 17 variables, grouped into four categories and weighted according to their relative importance, from the authors’ point of view (seen here). Numerical values are assigned for each variable for each road project. Those values are multiplied by the corresponding weights and then aggregated with others to derive a final ranking, which shows the relative degree of conservation opportunity presented by each road. That opportunity is simply the flip side of risk; the “risky” roads are those with high negative impacts, minimal benefits and some level of local opposition. Generically speaking conservation opportunities are present where changes or relocation of the project are somewhat realistic and could be beneficial for both conservation and economic development. This dynamic and multi-criteria tool allows conservationists and decision-makers to establish comparative risk assessments for Amazon road projects and identify opportunities for conservation action. We expect this tool will contribute to more efficient allocation of economic resources, helping development planners prevent negative impacts and focus investment on the most beneficial roads. To reach the Roads Filter Help Topics page, click here.

Status update