Freshkills Park Blog

Radar to protect birds from wind turbines


Left: Wind turbine radar detection system; Right: Radar map of four-mile detection zones for an installation of turbines. Photo courtesy of DeTect, Inc.

One of the environmental concerns surrounding the recent boom in wind farm development is the potential threat of large-scale bird mortality.  There’s nuance to the degree of potential threat related to factors like scale and siting (i.e., more threat when turbines are sited near migratory pathways, nesting areas and mountain passes, for example), but the risk remains.  A new radar technology in use at the Peñascal wind farm in Sarita, Texas aims to reduce that risk by shutting down turbines when birds are detected approaching.

The technology, developed by DeTect, Inc. and implemented by the Spanish firm Iberdrola Renewables, could be especially useful during inclement weather, when birds have a tendency to fly at lower altitudes.  The system spots birds as far as four miles away and gauges their numbers and  altitude.  After assessing the weather, the system calculates probability of impact and determines whether to shut down the turbines.  Turbines restart once the birds are safely on their way.

There has been talk about the possibility of using part of the Freshkills Park site as a wind farm.  Threat to birds is one of several potential impacts that would require analysis before any large-scale plans could advance, but in the meantime, we’re taking steps to integrate more modest renewable energy sources into each built project.  In addition to a green roof and geothermal heating and cooling, a small wind turbine will be installed to generate power for the Owl Hollow Fields Comfort Station,  in a relatively low-lying area at the edge of the Freshkills Park site.

(via EcoGeek)

May 6, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , | Leave a comment

Biodiversity building


In a move to increase biodiversity within our urban jungles, the UK Green Building Council (the UK’s equivalent of the US Green Building Council) have put forth some biophilic design recommendations to policymakers, developers and urban planners that could enable wildlife to better integrate with the built environment.  Proposed means to encourage biodiversity in cities include nesting holes built into walls for birds, ledges that mimic cliff faces attracting birds who roost on high perches and green roofs and living walls that mimic grasslands providing valuable habitat for pollinators and other ground dwellers.  These buildings could then become extensions of green space, acting as green stepping stones and allowing wildlife a means to commute.

(via The Dirt)

April 23, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , , | Leave a comment

Bird numbers declining

Nearly a third of the nation’s 800 bird species are endangered, threatened or in significant decline due to habitat loss, invasive species and other threats, according to a recent report from the Department of Interior.  Birds have been getting a bad rep recently, particularly because of the role of Canada geese in the Flight 1549 incident.  But they perform a valuable role in our ecosystems, acting as pollinators and controlling insect populations, as well as acting as indicators for environmental health (think canaries in coal mines, then scale up).  Their habitat is worth protecting.

The Freshkills Park site provides valuable habitat for a variety of birds. It’s a focal point of avian activity on the western shore of Staten Island and a key layover point on the Atlantic Flyway.  We host bi-monthly bird-watching tours in partnership with the Staten Island Museum, often spotting hawks, turkey vultures, killdeer, geese, ducks, herons and other shorebirds.  Protecting and expanding bird habitat is an important goal that will be interwoven with park development, starting most immediately with a small wetland restoration project in the North Park section of the site.

Photo by visualgrover via flickr

Photo by visualgrover via flickr

April 3, 2009 Posted by | FKP | , | Leave a comment