Power Transmission Lines - impact on Nature

Within my community there is a huge discussion going on as to whether it is necessary to build a new power transmission line (PTL). I have got some experience using the InVEST Carbon model, but is now wondering if there may be other models also suitable to unveil some of the PTL’s impact on nature. Any suggestions or advice will be much appreciated.

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Hi @Kaare,

Welcome to the NatCap forums and thanks for posting. I’m curious to what experiences the forums community might have in relation to this question.

As for NatCap models, the ones that come to mind are Forest Carbon Edge Effects, Habitat Quality, SDR, and Scenic Quality. Full disclosure, I’m just a software engineer so take the following thought process as you will.

Depending on the disturbed, cleared, and surrounding land use I would think that large PTLs would have a biodiversity impact. They could also have a sediment and nitrogen impact related to runoff and erosion, but it’s tough to know without knowing the scale and location of the project. Then there is the scenic quality impact that is often used when placing offshore wind energy farms. Of course, depending on the projects goal there could be benefits to people as well from installing the PTL. Here’s where you can find our models:


Hopefully other more experienced folks will chime in!



Hi Doug,
and thanks for your immediate respons and several suggestions, I will have a closer look at these. Some transmission towers are really huge, and certainly makes an impact on nature. The advantage of power transmission lines are often well documented, while their impact on nature is often not paid attention to.

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Hi @Kaare -

@dcdenu4 covered some of the models that could be relevant, and I’ll emphasize his noting that the scale is important to consider. Depending on how much land is cleared, it may or may not be able to be represented, given the particular model and resolution of the input data you use. For example, if your land cover map is, say, 30m resolution, and the clearing is significantly less than that, you won’t be able to represent the power lines very accurately.

~ Stacie


Hi Swolny,
thanks for your useful comment. My landcovermap is adapted to a scale 1:5000 which should give some 5m resolution. As the enclosed pictures indicate, the clearing width may be as much as 70-80m.

Kraftline  Kristin Kværnsveen-Naturvernforbundet

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Interesting question. I agree with Doug that those are probably the models of interest in InVEST regarding environmentally mediated externalities.