Environmental org trains citizens as biodiversity rangers for solar and wind farms

As the world is rebuilding its energy infrastructure to replace fossil fuels with renewable sources of power, solar and wind farms are turning empty land into semi-built environments. Aiming to turn those farms into havens for flora and fauna — or at least minimize the harm they do — a Dutch environmental organization is training 'energie boswachters,' or energy wildlife rangers.

The seven-part course developed by De Natuur en Milieufederaties (NMF) focuses on evaluating the ecological impact of a solar or wind farm on a specific plot of land, its effects on the surrounding landscape, and how to protect biodiversity in new and existing locations. Participants include people living nearby planned farms as well as volunteers working with various nature conservation efforts and members of local energy co-ops.

NMF has completed courses in five Dutch provinces and is planning a second series in 2023.

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Large renewable energy projects often take environmental values into account. But research by Wageningen University found that just three out of the 25 solar farms it studied were optimally managed for biodiversity.

By involving local residents, environmental organizations tap into people perfectly positioned to help protect and look out for their natural surroundings. Logical next step? Brands making long-term commitments to sponsor part-time citizen ecologists for new energy projects.

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