Federal guidance issued for assessing impact of projects on birds

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Canada's wind industry is hoping a new federal guidance document for assessing the potential impact of pro-jects on birds will help increase understanding of the issue and lead to more flexible monitoring requirements. The document, developed by Environment Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS), includes a guide that lays out the steps developers need to take to assess their projects and avoid problems. A third section outlines recommended monitoring protocols. "We certainly don't want to stand in the way of developing energy sources that will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. We recognise that climate change and other factors are going to have a potentially huge impact on wildlife," says Environment Canada's Charles Francis. "But at the same time we don't want wind turbines that are causing their own adverse impacts. We want to minimise those." The Canadian Wind Energy Association is working with CWS on creation of a centralised database to bring together bird related information from Canadian wind projects. "We believe the database is going to be quite helpful to CWS researchers in better understanding what the environmental effects are on birds and what the potential for cumulative effects is. And that is going to be particularly helpful for informing future monitoring requirements," says CanWEA's Sandra Schwartz. Francis agrees. "I would anticipate as we learn from this process, the requirements may decrease in the future. We hope they will. The whole objective of this is to learn more and be better able to predict in advance." Better understanding should also help lay to rest some of the misinformation that exists about bird kills, says Schwartz.

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