Wind turbines no obstacle to development of Important Bird Area (IBA)
New study shows positive long-term co-existence between wind turbines and birds over 20 year: An 8 fold increase in wind energy production occurred next to an internationally Important Bird Area developed from 1991 in Denmark.
The impact of wind turbines on birds have been assessed mostly on bird species and wind farm level. Commonly such assessments are limited to short- or medium term impact, with geese as the probably best example of decreasing impact over time and thus longer-term habituation. Other studies have focused on possible scare-off solution and mitigation measures to reduce the impact of wind turbines on birds. Rarely, if ever, the long-term impact of a wind farm has been assessed in order to understand how compensatory measures can counteract eventual losses of birds and biodiversity at landscape level.
This case study is elaborated from a 300 ha area on basis of four elements: 1) The construction and operation of the largest Danish wind turbine; 2) a three year Bird Impact Assessment conducted at the site; 3) the design and re-establishment of Sneum Digesų, formerly a 50 ha. marine clay excavation site, as an internationally Important Bird Area (IBA), and 4) the construction and operation of a 17 MW wind farm/8 wind turbines next to the IBA.
The case study has three main findings: Firstly, wind turbines have not been a barrier to development of an internationally important bird area in Denmark. Secondly, an artificial lake, when re-established appropriately, can be a significant contribution to bird and biodiversity conservation in the vicinity of a wind farm. Finally, a positive coexistence between wind turbines and birds is possible over time when assessed on the landscape level, beyond the territory of the wind farm.
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The findings may provide important understanding to planning authorities, non-governmental organisations and wind farm developers, on how to develop nature management methods, including compensatory measures, to improve the coexistence between wind farms and biodiversity and thus if bird/biodiversity-neutral wind energy production is possible?
Finally, the case study reveals a remarkable viewpoint - the output of 20 years development at Sneum Enge is a 8 fold increase in wind energy production and more birds at the same time. It stresses a need for innovation in nature management: Compensatory measures can counteract losses of birds and biodiversity at wind farms, and wind energy production will not only become more sustainable, but also help to alleviate climate change - a principal cause for biodiversity loss.