May 22nd is the International Day for Biological Diversity. Biodiversity is not only one of the Sustainable Development Goals, but also a key when we develop solar parks. We want to ensure we protect, restore and and promote sustainable use of ecosystems and biodiversity. This could for example be to create sand beds or sowing meadow flowers that will benefit the environment for wild bees.
To dive deeper, we had a chat with Tobias Emilsson, PhD and researcher at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), who is currently researching the biodiversity in our 18 MW solar park in Skurup.
Tobias, why is biodiversity so important?
– We have a moral responsibility to protect biodiversity. In addition, biodiversity is important for our economic system because it provides the basis for agriculture, forestry and fisheries, for example. It also underpins our quality of life in the form of services such as clean air, clean water, through functional ecosystems. Biodiversity is also important for future scientific discoveries in the form of new understanding of processes and events, but also more directly in the form of new materials, new crops or medicines.
How can one ensure biodiversity in a solar park?
– Solar parks are a new type of land use where land is used for energy production. This obviously has an impact on the landscape and therefore on biodiversity. By adapting the installation, the vegetation that is established and the subsequent management, new values and biodiversity can be created. It is also possible to work on introducing different elements that are known to promote biodiversity on a site, such as water, dead wood or the sowing of special seed mixtures. With the right design and management, values can be created that were not present on the site before.
Why is it crucial to do a biodiversity inventory when developing a site?
– Knowing what is present on a site is the basis for protecting its biological values, but also for developing sites that are currently less valuable. Today we do not have full knowledge of where all the values in the landscape are and it is therefore important to carry out a baseline inventory before developing an area or site.
Lastly, can you tell us more about the ongoing research project in our solar park in Skurup?
– We are investigating how biodiversity is developed by different types of vegetation management at the site. We know from previous work that the management of a site has a major impact on the values that develop over time. We are developing the existing vegetation on the site, but have also sown a couple of different seed mixtures. We will monitor the development of the vegetation and see if it’s possible to steer the management of the park towards more diversity. The aim is to optimise management while developing the biological values.