Study Launch: Offshore Biodiversity Data and Monitoring

RGI launched the study "A Review of Biodiversity Data Needs and Monitoring Protocols for the Offshore Wind Energy Sector in the Baltic Sea and North Sea" by author PJ Stephenson. The study commissioned by RGI is a building block towards transparent and comparable data as well as harmonised monitoring practices and a streamlined collaboration among stakeholders.
Oct 07, 2021

Study_Offshore Biodiv_RGI_News Piece.pngThe expansion of offshore wind energy (OWE) is of great importance on the road towards global carbon neutrality. However, offshore wind farms and the related infrastructure have potential impacts on marine biodiversity. To protect the flora and fauna of our seas when planning and operating OWE sites, we need to monitor their effects on the ecosystems. The RGI study is therefore also of relevance to the OCEaN project (with RGI as a founding member). Harmonising data for the benefit of biodiversity and offshore wind practices is one of the main objectives of OCEaN.

Against this background, RGI commissioned the present study based on a literature review, specialist work and research interviews in order to open the way to improvement and harmonisation in this field.

The key findings of the study are the following:

  1. Adopt common core indicators: Standardised data, indicators and monitoring protocols are vital building blocks towards a better protection of marine wildlife when planning and operating offshore wind sites.
  2. Use harmonised monitoring methods: Data sharing and collaboration are fundamental to better practices at every level.
  3. Adopt a set of key monitoring principles and approaches and harmonise technology usage: Fir-for-purpose monitoring programmes foster mutual learning and streamlined research.
  4. Conduct research: Research efforts should center around testing new technologies to improve monitoring focus and effectiveness.
  5. Enhance regional and sectorial collaboration for data-driven decision-making and improvement of biodiversity protection in the offshore wind energy sector.

Author Dr PJ Stephenson is an Independent Conservation and Sustainability Consultant, Chair of the IUCN SSC Species Monitoring Specialist Group and External Scientific Collaborator, University of Lausanne.

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