The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI) today announced an upgrade to the AWWI Landscape Assessment Tool (LAT), the state-of-the art wind-wildlife GIS mapping tool that they have jointly created. The LAT is designed to help wind energy developers with early screening for possible wildlife and habitat impacts. It is available online at http://wind.tnc.org/awwi and http://www.awwi.org/initiatives/landscape.aspx.
"The wind-wildlife mapping tool of the American Wind Wildlife Institute and The Nature Conservancy just got more powerful with the addition of critical habitat overlays for 225 endangered species including numerous species of plants, insects, mammals, fish, birds, amphibians, and reptiles,” said Joe Fargione, a Lead Scientist with The Nature Conservancy, one of the conservation non-profit Partners of AWWI. “We are providing wind energy companies and planners with an early screening tool to facilitate timely and responsible wind energy while protecting wildlife and natural habitat."
"AWWI’s wind-wildlife Landscape Assessment Tool is the fruit of a unique conservation-wind industry partnership," said Stuart Webster, Director of Permitting and Environmental with Iberdrola Renewables, one of the wind energy Partners of AWWI, and Chair of AWWI’s LAT Committee. "The tool provides cost-effective, early guidance regarding sensitive wildlife areas and areas likely to have low wildlife risk. The data management functions of the LAT also provide the user with direct links to owners of data layers for additional coordination when making siting decisions."
Critical habitats are areas that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designates "as necessary to the survival or recovery of an endangered or threatened species," and which therefore “may require special management and protection.” The LAT upgrade features critical habitat maps for the species for which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated such habitat and produced corresponding GIS layers.
In all, LAT users can now display web-based maps drawn from over 700 data layers including land use and ownership, the potential distribution of endangered and threatened species, and other relevant wildlife and habitat data. The LAT is intended to be used by wind energy companies as they undertake preliminary, “Tier 1” assessments of potential sites as recommended in the Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines recently issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"AWWI offers a forum where leading conservation nonprofits and wind energy companies tackle barriers to responsible wind energy development while protecting wildlife and habitat,” said AWWI Executive Director Abby Arnold. “Our work focuses on tools and strategies that have impact on the ground."
Additional AWWI initiatives include expanding mitigation options for golden eagles and development of a Wind-Wildlife Research Information System that, when completed, will expand the availability of wind-wildlife data and improve risk analysis.
About the American Wind Wildlife Institute
The American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI) leverages the power of collaboration and the voice of science to facilitate timely and responsible development of wind energy while protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat. For more information about AWWI initiatives and AWWI conservation and wind industry Partners, see www.awwi.org.
About The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines, March 23, 2012 http://www.fws.gov/windenergy/docs/WEG_final.pdf
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