Streetlight policies could cast a shadow over wildlife

Nov 16, 2012
Streetlight policies could cast a shadow over wildlife
Councils want to reduce overnight street lighting to decrease their carbon footprint.

(—Scientists have conducted the first study into the ecological effects of a variety of energy-saving options to reduce overnight street lighting. Among the findings, researchers discovered that introducing "whiter" LED lights would be likely to increase the environmental impact.

They are being considered in some areas as an alternative to traditional lighting methods.

The study was carried out by the University of Exeter's Environment and Sustainability Institute. The research, carried out in collaboration with Natural England, comes as councils and organisations are seeking cost-effective low-carbon lighting solutions which will change the urban lightscape dramatically over the next few years.

Professor Kevin Gaston, who led the research, said: "This study is designed to help address the considerable challenge of developing lighting strategies for the future. It is a delicate balance to find a solution which meets the need for human comfort and safety, reduces energy consumption and , and minimises ecological impacts, but it is a question which must be tackled. Discovering more about the ecological effects of various options can only help to resolve these conflicts."

The research, funded by the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme, also concluded that maintaining or increasing areas which are not artificially lit was likely to be the most effective option in ecological terms, but could clash with other social and economic objectives.

Decreasing the duration of lighting would reduce energy costs and carbon emissions, but would be unlikely to alleviate many impacts on animals, as peak times of demand for lighting frequently coincide with peaks in the activities of nocturnal species.

Reducing the trespass of lighting would create dark refuges that animals can move into and exploit.

Decreasing the intensity of lighting will reduce and limit both pollution and the area impacted by high-intensity direct light, the researchers concluded.

Professor Gaston said: "This study will help to inform decision-makers of the potential impact of the policies that many are in the process of adopting right now. We are currently carrying out more research to examine the effects of each option in more detail, as these decisions will help shape our night-time ecology."

Explore further: From dandruff to deep sea vents, an ecologically hyper-diverse fungus

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Stop traffic crashes: Switch on the lights

Jan 21, 2009

Street lighting provides a simple, low cost means of stemming the global epidemic of road traffic death and injury. Low income countries should consider installing more lights, and high income countries should think carefully ...

First global lighting study is released

Jun 29, 2006

The first global survey of lighting uses and costs suggests the world's electric bill would greatly decrease with a switch to efficient lighting systems.

Canada's new government to ban inefficient light bulbs

Apr 25, 2007

The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources, joined by the Honourable John Baird, Minister of the Environment, announced today that Canada’s New Government is taking another important step to protect the environment ...

New ballast dimming switch developed

Apr 20, 2006

U.S. scientists say they've developed a simple, cost-effective, energy-saving device designed to "harvest" daylight automatically.

More light for a better quality of life

Aug 19, 2010

The importance of artificial light to society has long been recognized with the utilization of fire thought of as the quintessential human invention. Now scientists have found that emerging, more energy efficient lighting ...

Recommended for you

Of bees, mites, and viruses

12 hours ago

Honeybee colonies are dying at alarming rates worldwide. A variety of factors have been proposed to explain their decline, but the exact cause—and how bees can be saved—remains unclear. An article published on August ...

Genetically tracking farmed fish escaping into the wild

Aug 20, 2014

European sea product consumption is on the rise. With overfishing being a threat to the natural balance of the ocean, the alternative is to turn to aquaculture, the industrial production of fish and seafood. ...

France fights back Asian hornet invader

Aug 20, 2014

They slipped into southwest France 10 years ago in a pottery shipment from China and have since invaded more than half the country, which is fighting back with drones, poisoned rods and even chickens.

User comments : 0