Seeing the Big Picture
Wind energy siting decisions require complex information that can overwhelm
the decision-making process. Computerized tools are being developed that
collate, overlay, and display a wide variety of information in visual, map-based
form. These tools provide information that is widely applicable to
landscape-level and regional assessment, allowing wind energy developers and
advocates to anticipate potential environmental risks earlier in the wind siting
AWWI has developed one such resource,
the Landscape Assessment Tool (LAT), with The Nature Conservancy and
with input from industry and environmental partners.
The LAT is accessible online. It is important to remember that it is
a general screening tool using publicly available data to provide
up-to-date information about the environmental characteristics and
important landscape-level wildlife values of a geographic area.
"Landscape-level" means that the LAT is not designed for and cannot be
used for project-specific siting evaluation, which requires much more
localized and detailed information.
The LAT is most useful in offering early guidance about possible
sensitivity of a site within a larger landscape context, and in
identifying sensitive wildlife habitat and areas likely to have low
wildlife risk. It can also be useful in the development of conservation
plans, monitoring plans, and mitigation strategies.
At present, the LAT's data, because it is gathered from a wide
variety of sources originally compiled for different purposes, is
limited by a high degree of variation in its accuracy and scale. As new
data and sources become available, we continue to improve the
accuracy and functionality of the LAT.
We invite you to
view and use the LAT and welcome your input and reactions. A
fact sheet on AWWI's Landscape Assessment Tool (LAT) is available [here].