What evidence exists for the use of urban forest management in nature-based carbon solutions and bird conservation. A systematic map protocol

Background

Climate change and the current phase-out of fossil fuel-fired power generation are currently expanding the market of renewable energy and more especially photovoltaic (PV) panels. Contrary to other types of renewable energies, such as wind and hydroelectricity, evidence on the effects of PV panels on biodiversity has been building up only fairly recently. PV panels have been linked to substantial impacts on species and ecosystems, the first and most obvious one being the degradation of natural habitats but they may also lead to mortality of individuals and displacements of populations. Hence, we propose a systematic map aiming to draw a comprehensive panorama of the available knowledge on the effects of photovoltaic and solar thermal (PVST) installations, whatever their scales (i.e. cells, panels, arrays, utility-scale facilities), on terrestrial and semi-aquatic species and natural/semi-natural habitats and ecosystems. This work aims at providing decision-makers with a better understanding of the effects of PVST installations and, therefore, help them further protect biodiversity while also mitigating anthropogenic climate change.

Methods

We will follow the collaboration for environmental evidence guidelines and search for relevant peer-reviewed and grey literature in English or French. The search string will combine population (all wild terrestrial and semi-aquatic species—e.g. animals, plants, fungi, microorganisms—as well as natural/semi-natural terrestrial habitats and ecosystems) and exposure/intervention (all technologies of PVST panels at all scales of installations and therefore excluding concentrated solar power) terms. A pre-built test list of relevant articles will be used to assess the comprehensiveness of the search string. Extracted citations will be screened at title and full-text stages thanks to pre-defined inclusion/exclusion criteria. Accepted citations will then be split into studies and observations, from which relevant metadata (e.g. taxon, exposure/intervention, outcome) will be extracted and their internal validity assessed through a critical appraisal. The database will be accessible alongside a map report which will draw a landscape of eligible studies. By describing studied populations, exposures/interventions, outcomes and internal study validity results, the report will identify potential knowledge clusters and gaps regarding the effects of PVST installations on biodiversity and ecosystems.

Keywords

Conservation, Ecological transition, Floating solar, Floatovoltaics, Green infrastructure, Solar panels, Utility-scale solar energy, USSE, Wildlife

In Progress