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Advancing Marine Conservation Through Offshore Wind Development

Updated: 3 days ago

In this Blue Pioneers podcast episode, hosted by Sea Change Row Expedition member Chrissy Durkin, a biodiversity specialist with U.K.-based Ørsted, Samir Whitaker, shared his insights on green energy solutions and how his industry is working to deliver benefits for climate and nature.

Samir noted the transition to renewable energy is critical for tackling climate change, but it's equally important that this transition happens in a way that protects and enhances biodiversity. Offshore wind is set to play a major role, with ambitious targets to multiply capacity in the coming years. The recognition that Nature is the key stakeholder is imperative.

To achieve a net positive  impact, Ørsted is taking a proactive approach from the early project design stage by avoiding sensitive marine habitats and looking for ways to minimize impacts during construction. Outlining the ways Ørsted will restore and enhance marine habitats within their wind farm sites, Samir speaks to a holistic seascape approach that supports interconnected habitats to boost the overall health and resilience of marine ecosystems.

An offshore nesting ledge for birds.
Ørsted is building offshore nesting ledges suitable for the vulnerable black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) which prefers the most inaccessible narrow ledges to lay their eggs out of reach of predators. Source: Ørsted

Samir provides details on how data will be collected and used to inform biodiversity-friendly wind farm design and measure impacts over time, for a better understanding of how marine species interact with the infrastructure and to track recovery after construction. 

The challenges in measuring biodiversity outcomes and alignment with nature positive development requires close collaboration with conservation organizations and local stakeholders. Samir said, while individual actions matter, improving marine conservation at a grand scale will require systemic changes and strong public advocacy to strengthen regulations around issues like curbing nutrient pollution. 

About Samir 

Samir has 15 years of global experience in biodiversity and ecosystem management, Biodiversity Net Gain initiatives and sustainable sourcing for the private and NGO sectors, and developing and delivering projects and partnerships across a range of landscapes. He has significant experience screening, managing and integrating biodiversity and social risk through projects and supply chains, designing and executing biodiversity net gain strategy, environmental baseline studies, and developing tailored tools, guidance and policy. Committed to driving business change and achieving long-term sustainability by making conservation core business.

He leads the integration of Ørsted's global biodiversity ambition into their UK Business, including a quantitative framework Net Positive Impact, project plans for Biodiversity Net Gain, and supporting the development and rollout of company-wide Nature Based Solutions.


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