Renewable Energy Initiative Seeks to Balance Economics and Ecology
Whether from climate change, the volatile oil markets, or the economic recession, the country’s growing energy crisis presents a great many challenges. NatureServe is meeting these challenges head on through our work with the Western Renewable Energy Zone Initiative of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA).
A collaboration among governors in eleven states, Canada and Mexico, the Initiative has implemented a process for weighing energy and economic potential with environmental and cultural concerns, and then designating renewable energy zones. These zones will take into consideration the possible conflicts presented by solar, wind, and geothermal power by avoiding the most sensitive areas to streamline future development.
NatureServe has been selected to conduct wildlife suitability analyses for the Initiative. “Our role includes recommending techniques and conducting GIS analyses that show potential impacts on wildlife from renewable energy. Ultimately this will lead to a categorized map of all lands covered by the Initiative,” said Mary Klein, NatureServe president and CEO, who serves on WGA’s Environment and Lands Working Group.
NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs are also an integral part of providing data on the distribution of rare and imperiled species to the Initiative, as well as data on priority conservation lands.