The current rise in global demand for energy has resulted in the development of numerous conventional and unconventional methods of energy development that have adverse environmental impacts. One of the major concerns involves the effect of energy development on wildlife and natural ecosystems. Over the last decade, high demand for energy has spurred development of new energy sources that have adversely affected wildlife.
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The five major energy sources studied in the research include bioenergy, unconventional oil and gas, as well as geothermal, wind, and solar energy. Each of these energy sources was seen to impact wildlife and terrestrial ecosystems in different ways. Bioenergy development released carbon emissions and perpetuated deforestation.
It had little effect on wildlife. Unconventional oil and gas development has encouraged fragmentation of natural ecosystems, destruction of animal habitats, and caused animal mortality due to pollution. In addition, it has caused changes in animal behavior due to extensive interference caused by human activity in their natural habitats. Human activity altered natural patterns of animal reproduction and plant pollination process.
According to the research conducted, the main effect of wind energy development on wildlife was the construction of turbines that blocked birds’ flying routes. They died having rammed into wind turbines. The main challenge in this sector was the erection of wind farms within the regions that had high bird populations. Results of the study indicated that wind energy development had little effect on terrestrial wildlife.
Solar and geothermal energy were not adequately exploited for various reasons. Therefore, they posed a few threats to wildlife. Possible negative impacts of their development included alteration in the microclimate of certain habitats and habitat loss due to the destruction of ecosystems resulting from land fragmentation. Development of geothermal energy was detrimental to natural ecosystems due to the release of toxic gases that increased the rate of animal mortality.
In the study, researchers found out that animals died mainly from inhalation of toxic emissions. The main impact of energy development on wildlife was behavioral alterations in the species. Displacement of animals and birds and changes in migration and movement patterns were revealed as common effects of energy development in different sectors. Fragmentation and destruction of habitats were identified as common factors among the five sources of energy studied.
They resulted in changes in animal interaction among species as well as the elimination of migratory routes. Extreme effects of energy development included altered reproduction capabilities, decreased rates of survival, and wildlife mortality. Shortage of adequate literature on mitigation measures as well as on the best management practices to be applied was a call for further research. Wildlife conservation was an important issue for consideration in the research study.
The results of the study revealed a dire need for the implementation of stringent measures to protect wildlife. It is important to lessen the effects of energy development on wildlife and natural ecosystems. The most important mitigation measure is the implementation of thorough pre-development assessments and reduction of land conversion rates. It is imperative to determine the environmental characteristics of locations chosen for energy development activities.
This is important for purposes of predicting potential impacts of energy development activities. On the other hand, determining wildlife distribution patterns within the regions marked for energy development is important. Areas with high levels of wildlife occupancy should be avoided in favor of areas with low wildlife rate.
Pre-development assessments are imperative in order to design the best management practices to be applied in areas marked for development. Impacts of energy development on wildlife survival and proliferation necessitate further research into the viable best management practices to be applied during energy development.
Further research should be conducted to study the impact of energy development on different wildlife ecosystems located in different geographical areas. Creation and application of best management practices and alleviation procedures are imperative in order to enhance the protection of wildlife and natural ecosystems.