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Program Background

With the increasing threats from climate change, a shift to more renewable energy sources like wind is necessary to reduce the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, the locations of reliable wind both onshore and offshore areoften the same places birds use to migrate, breed or overwinter which brings them into conflict with wind turbines through collisions or avoidance of otherwise suitable stopover and breeding habitat. To combat these threats, ABC has developed a Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign to:  (1) enable the wind energy industry to better plan and account for sensitive bird species by properly siting wind facilities outside of important bird habitat, (2) advocate for policy that ensures protection of endangered and at-risk species, and (3) educate the public about this increasingly important issue through outreach. This proposal is primarily focused on the first of these strategies, specifically for new work to protect focal, at-risk species Eastern Golden Eagle, Whooping Crane, and Roseate Tern.

across three programs covering
$25,000 in 2021, $25,000 in 2023,
and $30,000 in 2024.

Impact of Wind Industry on Birds

Studies have shown that climate change will cause far-reaching and devastating impacts to wildlife  and humans alike. Renewable energy development is a critically important component of the  transition away from fossil fuels, making our air cleaner and reversing the effects of climate change.  

Unfortunately, wind energy development also has a substantial negative impact on birds when  facilities are poorly sited. American Bird Conservancy estimates that more than half a million birds  are killed by collisions with wind turbines each year. Others are killed by collisions with  transmission lines built to connect facilities to the energy grid. And many more birds are displaced  by wind facilities due to the changes in habitat caused by facility construction. 

This is a broadly recognized problem, but it’s also becoming increasingly prevalent. To address the  climate crisis, renewable energy production must be dramatically increased, and elected officials  are currently taking major steps toward accelerating this development. Unfortunately, wind energy  facilities require relatively large acreage, so a surge in development will increase conflict with bird  habitat. 

The good news is protecting birds and renewable energy development do not have to be mutually  exclusive. It is possible to continue to add renewable energy capacity and protect birds. By siting  facilities in appropriate locations, mitigating for impacts to birds, and following other best  practices, we can combat climate change without sacrificing our vulnerable bird populations.  

American Bird Conservancy’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign has been at the forefront of  promoting best practices for wind energy development for more than a decade. Our work is  grounded in our Bird-Smart Wind Energy principles, which provide a simple blueprint for  environmentally-responsible wind energy development.  

Content source: American Bird Conservancy (ABC) proposal to the Dr. Michael Hutchins Impact on Wildlife Fund.

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