WWF-Canada Launches ‘Renewables for Nature’ Planning Tool

WWF-Canada has launched Renewables for Nature, a new interactive decision-making tool to help identify regions with high renewable-energy potential and comparatively low conflict with nature in and offshore Canada.

Energy types included in this interactive mapping tool are wind, offshore wind, solar, tidal, hydro, and biomass.

The tool aims to speed the transition to a low-carbon future while ensuring key habitats and ecosystems thrive for wildlife and communities.

This tool, applied in New Brunswick and the Bay of Fundy region to start, overlays renewable energy and conservation data on the same map for the first time in Canada.

The energy layer reveals renewable energy reserves: the resource potential for each energy type across the region. The conservation layer captures data on 728 species at risk, as well as detailed information on biodiversity, habitat and other conservation and community environmental uses for the entire area.

The goal of the tool is to help renewable energy project developers make decisions that account for wildlife, habitat, community and cultural needs from the outset, increasing the chance of a project’s success before reaching the environmental assessment stage.

The tool allows users to focus on a region, select an energy type and then see whether an area of high energy potential will be in low, medium, high or critical conflict with conservation and community needs.

A low conservation ranking means there are fewer conservation conflicts in that region, though not necessarily none. A region with a critical ranking has multiple conservation values. It may include regulated areas and should be avoided for future renewable-energy development, WWF-Canada said.

“An immediate and massive transition to renewable energy is the most important step we can take to slow climate change and possibly prevent some of the cascading negative effects on wildlife and habitat,” David Miller, WWF-Canada president and CEO, said.

”WWF-Canada’s habitat-friendly approach to identifying renewable-energy project locations accounts for the environment before significant investments are made. It will help speed the development of renewable-energy projects that are less likely to conflict with conservation and community needs. It’s a win for the environment, for communities and for industry.”

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