Renewable energy developments threaten major biodiverse areas: researchers

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SYDNEY, March 26 (Xinhua) -- More than 2,000 renewable energy facilities are built in major environmental areas and threaten the natural habitats of plant and animal species worldwide, according to a latest Australian research.

"Aside from the more than 2,200 renewable energy facilities already operating inside important biodiversity areas, another 900 are currently being built," University of Queensland researcher Jose Rehbein said in a statement on Thursday.

"Energy facilities and the infrastructure around them, such as roads and increased human activity, can be incredibly damaging to the natural environment.

"These developments are not compatible with biodiversity conservation efforts," Rehbein said.

His research team mapped the location of solar, wind and hydropower facilities in wilderness, protected areas and key biodiversity areas.

The majority of renewable energy facilities in western Europe and developed nations are located in biodiverse areas and Rehbein said there is still time for developers to reconsider facilities under construction in Asia and Africa.

Effective conservation efforts and a rapid transition to renewable energy was essential to prevent species extinctions and avoid catastrophic climate change, researcher James Allan said.

"The entire team agree that this work should not be interpreted as anti-renewables because renewable energy is crucial for reducing carbon emissions," he said.

"The key is ensuring that renewable energy facilities are built in places where they do not damage biodiversity.

"Renewable energy developments must consider biodiversity as well as carbon, and avoid any negative impacts on biodiversity to be truly sustainable," Allan said.

The team, whose findings were published in scientific journal Global Change Biology, urged governments and industry "to avoid expanding renewable energy facilities into conservation areas and plan for alternative locations." Enditem

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