Renewable energy development and biodiversity protection can go hand in hand.
Stepping stones for change
Better Energy is on a green journey to change the way our society is powered. We want to take full responsibility for the land we use in a wider context. Solar is unique as a renewable power source because it can combine clean energy production and native species and habitat conservation. With careful research and planning, solar plant sites can help restore and conserve nature, increase biodiversity and support healthy ecosystems. Solar plant sites can serve as important stepping stones to help reverse the trend of declining biodiversity.
From vision to impact
Better Energy’s new initiative for greater biodiversity will be first rolled out as a pilot project in the Blangslev solar plant in Denmark. The landscaping of Blangslev to support greater biodiversity is carefully planned in context of the surroundings. After a thorough local environmental study, eight distinct biodiversity ’points of impact’ will be incorporated in the solar plant site to ensure nature has good opportunities to spread and thrive over the years.
1. The fruit grove
The fruit grove offers a different kind of windbreak vegetation. The focus of this area is fruit and berry-bearing trees and shrubs that benefit both people and wildlife. Neighbours and visitors are welcome to come by and pick fruits and berries, and the remaining fruit provides food for birds, insects and other animals in the area.
2. The overlook
Excess topsoil from other areas is moved here to create a small hill – an overlook of the solar plant and the surrounding countryside. Tables and benches will be placed on the lookout, creating a meeting place with a view. Piling up large stones on the sunny southern slope of the hill creates a warm microhabitat for cold-blooded animals, insects and plants that thrive in the heat.
3. The lowland
The existing wet conditions in the lowland are strengthened by removing soil from the lowest areas. This enhances the wet biotope that would have existed here without the land drainage that was required for agriculture. In the spring the lowland will be periodically flooded, creating a perfect habitat for local amphibians to breed. Tall native perennials are planted here, but space is also left for the local flora to emerge.
4. The forest garden
The forest garden is an experimental approach to agroecology which combines a natural forest and an orchard, with an underbrush of mostly edible wild plants. The forest garden is a multilayered garden with trees, shrubs and herbs where visitors and neighbours can harvest the seasonal wild fruits, berries and herbs. The forest garden also provides food and habitats for wildlife like birds, insects and other smaller animals.
5. The flower edge
Flower seeds are sown along the upper edge of the solar plant. This enhances the appearance of the solar plant for visitors and passers-by who will see flowers in bloom. The flower seed mixes are carefully blended to ensure continuous flowering throughout the year. Neighbours can pick beautiful flowers, and the flowers also provide nectar for bees and other insects.
6. The sandbank
The late glacial deposition of sand at Blangslev is exposed to create a nutrient-poor island in the former cultivated field. The glacial sand differs from the soil in the rest of the area by the higher sand content and the lower nutrient levels, which create special conditions for a habitat that differs from the surroundings. Groups of large rocks accumulate heat, creating a warmer microclimate for heat-tolerant species.
7. The grassland
A grassland is established under the power lines. This grassland will provide food and shelter for insects and birds from the open farmland, such as partridges and skylarks. In some places, the nutrient rich topsoil is removed, and hardy flowering species are sown. The excess soil is used to create small elevations in the landscape. On the high voltage masts, nesting boxes for kestrels are fastened.
8. The forest
A light, open forest edge is re-established on the western side of the existing forest reserve. The structure of the forest edge is established with intermediate young trees and bushes to create a gradual transition from the open grassland to the dense forest. This structure protects the existing forest climate and makes it a preferred habitat for many species due to the combination of both light and shelter.