The Appalachians are a landscape rich in globally-significant biological diversity, ecosystem services that provide clean drinking water and outdoor recreation to countless human communities, and energy resources that meet national and regional demands for coal, oil, and natural gas. For centuries, the Appalachians have been a hotspot for America's energy needs. Large expanses of forests provided early settlers with a ready supply of wood fuel. As the nation industrialized, the region became the center for coal, oil, and recently natural gas extraction. Though essential for society, the extraction of these energy resources has altered the Appalachian landscape, impacting biodiversity and natural places that make the Appalachians unique. Energy has and still is one of the leading drivers of landscape change in the region.
New technologies facilitating the greater development of shale gas and wind energy to meet continued demand could pose additional environmental costs. As wind, natural gas, and oil energy development expand along with traditional coal, there is an increasing need for research to inform discussions on how to meet immediate and future energy needs while sustaining the health of natural systems. The Appalachian LCC and its partners are funding new research that is modeling potential future impacts to forests, streams, and biodiversity from new technology and continued energy development in order to start conservations on how to effectively avoid, minimize, and offset impacts from energy development to important natural areas and the valuable services they provide.
- Assessing Future Energy Development across the Appalachian LCC uses models that combine data on energy development trends and identifies where these may intersect with important natural resource and ecosystem services to give a more comprehensive picture of what potential energy development could look like in the Appalachians.
- Stream Impacts from Water Withdrawals in the Marcellus Shale Region provides new information to help resource managers, industry and others make more informed decisions in achieving sustainable river and stream flows that balance the needs of society and healthy ecosystems.
- Partner Projects & Resources provides information on additional energy-related projects being conducted by partners in the region as well as key tools, data, and publications that are helping to minimize or offset impacts from energy development and enhance conservation.
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