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Why This Matters Now
To meet New York’s clean energy goals, renewable energy will need to provide 50 percent of our energy by 2025. Much of this energy could come from wind power. What does this mean for nature? The Nature Conservancy in New York is helping to address that question with a newly released mapping system called the Biodiversity and Wind Siting Mapping Tool.
What is the Tool?
The tool is designed to help protect New York State’s biodiversity while still advancing statewide energy development and policy goals. Using geographic information system (GIS) technology, the tool maps important ecological resources, such as sensitive habitats, large forest blocks, and migration routes.
This tool, developed by scientists from The Nature Conservancy, The New York Natural Heritage Program, and The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in collaboration with NYSERDA can help decision-makers balance environmental concerns with energy infrastructure siting.
How the Tool Works
Wind energy affects nature in two main ways: First, by causing collisions between turbine blades and birds and bats. Second, wind power results in indirect impacts from the "footprint" of turbines and associated roads, transmission lines and other infrastructure. This tool provides a way to assess natural habitats that may be affected and provides information on the migratory pathways of birds and bats in New York.
Up until now, there has never been a way to see where and how these impacts would happen at a landscape level. Mapping New York's biodiversity comprehensively will give energy developers and decision-makers a powerful tool to:
- Avoid areas with high natural resource values
- Help protect the state’s plant and animal populations
- Plan wisely for the development of renewable wind power