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Framework for strategic wind farm site prioritisation based on modelled wolf reproduction habitat in Croatia

Passoni, G; Rowcliffe, M; Whiteman, A; Huber, D; Kusak, J; (2017) Framework for strategic wind farm site prioritisation based on modelled wolf reproduction habitat in Croatia. European Journal of Wildlife Research , 63 , Article 38. 10.1007/s10344-017-1092-7.

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Abstract

In order to meet carbon reduction targets, many nations are greatly expanding their wind power capacity. However, wind farm infrastructure potentially harms wildlife, and we must therefore find ways to balance clean energy demands with the need to protect wildlife. Wide-ranging carnivores live at low density and are particularly susceptible to disturbance from infrastructure development, so are a particular concern in this respect. We focused on Croatia, which holds an important population of wolves and is currently planning to construct many new wind farms. Specifically, we sought to identify an optimal subset of planned wind farms that would meet energy targets while minimising potential impact on wolves. A suitability model for wolf breeding habitat was carried out using Maxent, based on six environmental variables and 31 reproduction site locations collected between 1997 and 2015. Wind farms were prioritised using Marxan to find the optimal trade-off between energy capacity and overlap with critical wolf reproduction habitat. The habitat suitability model predictions were consistent with the current knowledge: probability of wolf breeding site presence increased with distance to settlements, distance to farmland and distance to roads and decreased with distance to forest. Spatial optimisation showed that it would be possible to meet current energy targets with only 31% of currently proposed wind farms, selected in a way that reduces the potential ecological cost (overall predicted wolf breeding site presence within wind farm sites) by 91%. This is a highly efficient outcome, demonstrating the value of this approach for prioritising infrastructure development based on its potential impact on wide-ranging wildlife species.

Type: Article
Title: Framework for strategic wind farm site prioritisation based on modelled wolf reproduction habitat in Croatia
DOI: 10.1007/s10344-017-1092-7
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10344-017-1092-7
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Wolf, Canis lupus, Wind farms, Habitat suitability modelling, Spatial planning, Croatia
UCL classification: UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Biosciences (Division of) > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1545233
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