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Saenz S.,University of Los Andes, Colombia | Walschburger T.,University of Los Andes, Colombia | Gonzalez J.C.,Northern Andes Program | Leon J.,Latin America Program | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Mitigation policy and regulatory frameworks are consistent in their strong support for the mitigation hierarchy of: (1) avoiding impacts, (2) minimizing impacts, and then (3) offsetting/compensating for residual impacts. While mitigation frameworks require developers to avoid, minimize and restore biodiversity on-site before considering an offset for residual impacts, there is a lack of quantitative guidance for this decision-making process. What are the criteria for requiring impacts be avoided altogether? Here we examine how conservation planning can guide the application of the mitigation hierarchy to address this issue. In support of the Colombian government's aim to improve siting and mitigation practices for planned development, we examined five pilot projects in landscapes expected to experience significant increases in mining, petroleum and/or infrastructure development. By blending landscape-level conservation planning with application of the mitigation hierarchy, we can proactively identify where proposed development and conservation priorities would be in conflict and where impacts should be avoided. The approach we outline here has been adopted by the Colombian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development to guide licensing decisions, avoid piecemeal licensing, and promote mitigation decisions that maintain landscape condition. Copyright © 2013 Saenz et al. Source


Kiesecker J.M.,Global Conservation Lands Program | Evans J.S.,Global Conservation Lands Program | Fargione J.,North America Conservation Region | Doherty K.,Audubon Society | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Wind energy offers the potential to reduce carbon emissions while increasing energy independence and bolstering economic development. However, wind energy has a larger land footprint per Gigawatt (GW) than most other forms of energy production, making appropriate siting and mitigation particularly important. Species that require large unfragmented habitats and those known to avoid vertical structures are particularly at risk from wind development. Developing energy on disturbed lands rather than placing new developments within large and intact habitats would reduce cumulative impacts to wildlife. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that it will take 241 GW of terrestrial based wind development on approximately 5 million hectares to reach 20% electricity production for the U.S. by 2030. We estimate there are ~7,700 GW of potential wind energy available across the U.S., with ~3,500 GW on disturbed lands. In addition, a disturbance-focused development strategy would avert the development of ~2.3 million hectares of undisturbed lands while generating the same amount of energy as development based solely on maximizing wind potential. Wind subsidies targeted at favoring low-impact developments and creating avoidance and mitigation requirements that raise the costs for projects impacting sensitive lands could improve public value for both wind energy and biodiversity conservation. Source

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