ABC's Bird-Smart Wind Energy Program recently rolled out a revised version of its popular wind energy siting tool, the Wind Risk Assessment Map. This online resource shows areas important for birds, where wind energy development should proceed with caution or be avoided, and where turbines are currently located. The Map can increase awareness of how wind energy development impacts both resident and migratory bird populations, and help promote bird-smart development by informing appropriate wind facility siting.
The growing threat of climate change continues to negatively affect people, wildlife, and the environment. While there is a critical need to develop a diverse arsenal of solutions to address a changing climate, wind turbines and associated infrastructure — if not properly sited — present a serious threat to birds and their habitats.
The Map was first developed in 2015 as a resource for the wind energy industry, management agencies, and other stakeholders interested in achieving renewable energy that is safer for birds and other wildlife. Its new version includes updated locations of existing wind turbines, as well as a more user-friendly platform. ABC's Bird-Smart Wind Energy and Conservation Science teams, with help from consultant Sarah Sienaert, spearheaded the update in order to improve the user experience and better utilize the latest wind energy data. The updated system communicates a clearer picture of the overall impacts that turbines have on America's birds, their habitats, flyways, and other migratory pathways.
Areas of importance to birds featured in the tool are derived from a variety of sources, with the Map's priority bird areas shown in red — those critically important to birds — and orange, indicating where development should proceed with caution. Wind turbine locations and data are from the U.S. Wind Turbine Database, representing a collaboration by the U.S. Geological Survey, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and American Wind Energy Association.
ABC supports wind energy development when it is bird-smart. Our campaign entails pursuing proactive strategies in priority regions, engaging in project planning-level processes to improve outcomes, and promoting bird-smart policy. “By working with a variety of stakeholders to promote sustainable wind energy development in the right areas and effective mitigation strategies, we can chart a safer future for birds,” says Joel Merriman, ABC's Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign Director.
ABC estimates that more than 500,000 birds are killed each year by collisions with wind turbines. Based on predicted industry buildout, this is likely to grow to more than 1.4 million by 2030. In order to address this threat, ABC advocates seven principles of Bird-Smart Wind Energy, which include ensuring that turbines are sited in areas with low bird-collision risk, conducting post-construction monitoring of bird mortalities, and employing effective mitigation strategies at the project level.
Are there plans for a wind energy project in your area, and are you concerned about its potential impact on birds? Are you interested in knowing how many turbines are found within the range of a given species, or in a particular area? Check out the updated Wind Risk Assessment Map. This resource will provide the public and key decision-makers with a better understanding of how wind energy affects birds, and how to reduce this burgeoning industry's impacts on birds and their habitats.
ABC thanks the Leon Levy Foundation for its support of ABC's Bird-Smart Wind Energy Program.
Media Contact: Jordan Rutter, Director of Public Relations, 202-888-7472 | firstname.lastname@example.org | @JERutter
Expert Contact: Joel Merriman, Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign Director | email@example.com
American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).
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