Environmental affect stories might vastly underestimate penalties for wildlife

Environmental impact reports may hugely underestimate consequences for wildlife

Black-tailed godwits within the Tagus Estuary. Credit: Verónica Méndez Aragón (VMA) and Ericka Fierro (EF)

Environmental Impact Assessments might vastly underestimate the impact that new developments have on wildlife, based on new analysis from the University of East Anglia. This is as a result of they do not consider how birds and different animals transfer round between completely different websites.

A research revealed as we speak in Animal Conservation exhibits how a brand new airport improvement deliberate in Portugal might have an effect on greater than 10 occasions the variety of black-tailed godwits estimated in a earlier Environmental Impact Assessment. The analysis group has been finding out these godwits throughout Europe for over 30 years, however they are saying that any species that strikes round is more likely to be underrepresented by such stories.

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In the UK, the environmental affect of a deliberate tidal barrage throughout the Wash estuary might equally be a lot worse than predicted for wild birds and England’s largest frequent seal colony.

Prof Jenny Gill from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences stated, “Environmental Impact Assessments are carried out when developments are planned for sites where wildlife is protected. But the methods used to produce these reports seldom consider how species move around between different sites. This can drastically underestimate the number of animals impacted, and this is particularly relevant for species that are very mobile, like birds.”

Josh Nightingale, a Ph.D. researcher in UEA’s School of Biological Sciences and from the University of Aveiro in Portugal, stated, “We studied the Tagus Estuary in Portugal, an unlimited coastal wetland the place a brand new airport is presently deliberate and has already been issued an environmental license.

“This area is Portugal’s most important wetland for waterbirds, and contains areas legally protected for conservation. But it faces the threat of having a new international airport operating at its heart, with low-altitude flightpaths overlapping the protected area. Black-tailed godwits are one of several wading birds that we see in massive numbers on the Tagus.

“The new airport’s Environmental Impact Assessment estimated that under 6% of the godwit population will be affected by the plans. However, by tracking movements of individual godwits to and from the affected area, we found that the more than 68% of godwits in the Tagus estuary would in fact be exposed to disturbance from airplanes.”

The analysis group has been finding out particular person black-tailed godwits for 3 a long time, by becoming them with uniquely identifiable mixtures of coloured leg rings. With the assistance of a community of birdwatchers throughout Europe, they’ve recorded the whereabouts of particular person godwits all through the birds’ lives.

“Many of these godwits spend the winter on the Tagus Estuary,” stated Dr. José Alves, a researcher on the University of Aveiro and visiting educational at UEA’s School of Biological Sciences.

“So we used native sightings of color-ringed birds to calculate what number of of them use websites which can be projected to be affected by airplanes. We have been then capable of predict the airport’s affect on future godwit actions throughout the entire estuary.

“This method of calculating the footprint of environmental impact could be applied to assess many other proposed developments in the UK, particularly those affecting waterbirds and coastal habitats the place monitoring information is offered.

“Eight environmental NGOs together with Client Earth have already taken the Portuguese government to court to contest the approval of this airport development. We hope our findings will help strengthen the case by showing the magnitude of the impacts, which substantially surpass those quantified in the developer’s Environmental Impact Assessment,” he added.

More info:
Conservation past Boundaries: utilizing animal motion networks in Protected Area assement, Animal Conservation (2023). DOI: 10.1111/acv.12868

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University of East Anglia

Environmental affect stories might vastly underestimate penalties for wildlife (2023, April 6)
retrieved 6 April 2023
from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-environmental-impact-hugely-underestimate-consequences.html

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