The Government of Canada is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and is encouraging the establishment of alternative energy sources such as wind energy. As the wind energy sector rapidly expands, it is important to ensure that it does so in a manner that does not result in adverse effects on other aspects of the environment. EA is a tool that provides an effective means of integrating environmental factors into planning and decision-making processes in a manner that minimizes adverse environmental impacts of development.
Wind energy projects have the potential to affect birds adversely through direct fatalities, disturbance, and habitat loss. The purpose of this document is to outline the nature of information needed in an EA to identify, assess, monitor and mitigate the potential adverse effects of wind energy projects on birds, especially migratory birds and species at risk (SAR). This is an essential component of any EA of wind energy projects.
This guide recognizes the current uncertainty in predicting and understanding effects of turbines on birds, including inherent difficulties in assessing and monitoring bird-turbine collisions. It uses best available information to indicate the appropriate level of effort required to assess and monitor potential effects, given the sensitivity of relevant species and their habitats. This guide is intended to be used in consultation with regional CWS biologists and EA experts to consider site-specific concerns.
The guide can be used as a pre-assessment tool to identify site and design features that should be considered to minimize impacts on birds. The guide is also intended to be used as an EA guide, in conjunction with expert advice provided through EC on how to undertake that part of the EA that relates to birds. Guidance is provided on preliminary information necessary to determine site sensitivity. The guide uses a matrix approach based on site sensitivity and facility size to rank the proposed project into a project category that indicates the relative level of effort anticipated in determining and mitigating potential adverse effects to birds. Baseline information and follow-up requirements are identified for the four project categories. The guide also provides information on assessing cumulative effects.