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Need to Prevent conflict between renewable energy and biodiversity

Some years ago, I was in the East European countryside with a young scientist. He was studying bats in an area where wind power was planned, so the project could prevent bats from clashes and disorientation by the movement and the noise. Today, wildlife-renewable conflict is a global challenge. India is no exception.

Jaisalmer is one of the last few remaining habitats of the endangered Great Indian Bustard. Only about a hundred of the birds survive in the wild. This bird gets electrocuted when it hits transmission lines, because solar parks have been established in its territory. In the Western Ghats, Maria Thaker and others have found fewer birds of prey and consequently, a spurt of lizards in areas around wind turbines. This changes the ecology. In both cases, citing renewables becomes the key.

As India gears up to meet its climate change commitments, it must re-think citing of renewable infrastructure. In fact, India, with its rich biodiversity, is particularly vulnerable to the unintended consequences of the renewable energy. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has recently warned of million species going extinct.

This can harm our national interest as food chains and thousands of ecosystem services collapse.This is not easy, for even areas widely understood as wastelands have turned out to be the home of critically endangered birds.

The way ahead lies in working with scientists to identify appropriate citing, innovatively reusing spaces like mass rooftops, and fragmenting infrastructure.

We need both renewable energy and our precious biodiversity to prosper.

The author is the founder and director of Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group



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