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Two international reports on the conflict between migratory birds and power lines in the African-Eurasian region are being presented to delegates at a UN wildlife conference taking place 20-25 November 2011 in Bergen, Norway. See UN Wildlife Meeting Pushes to Make Power Lines Safer for Birds.
See our leaflet Birds and Electric Power lines.

Review of and guidelines for mitigating/avoiding the conflict between migratory birds and electricity power grids in the African-Eurasian region

A project in the framework of the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)


Introduction

Due to risks of fatal collision or electrocution, electrical infrastructures are considered one of the major causes of unnatural deaths for birds and in particular migratory birds, in large parts of the world. In several Eurasian and Africa countries a relative high proportion of the collision and electrocution victims concern endangered species, such as spoonbills, bustards, cranes and eagles. In contrast, power poles and masts often offer important perching, roosting and nesting sites for a number of species. A large number of studies have been published on the issues involved, but the information is scattered, not always easily accessible and an overall overview of the magnitude of the conflict between birds and electricity power grids on the larger scale of the African-Eurasian region is lacking. The same applies for the solutions to avoid electrocution and the various measures to mitigate collisions that are already implemented or under development. The Secretariats of UNEP/AEWA and UNEP/CMS have commissioned an international consortium, led by Bureau Waardenburg (the Netherlands), to assess and review the magnitude of the conflict between birds and electricity power grids throughout the African-Eurasian region and to draw up guidelines on the possible mitigation and avoidance measures.

Review and guidelines

The project will deliver two main products: a review report and a guidelines document. The review report will consist of two parts. The first part will review the existing information on the conflicts between birds and the electricity grid, concentrating on a) collisions, b) electrocutions, c) disturbance effects and d) positive influences of power lines. The second part of the review report will present an overview of the issue at a regional level, focusing on conflict hotspots and species at risk. The review will also identify and present gaps in the knowledge on the extent of bird risks throughout the region. The review will be based on published information as well as information obtained by enquiries that will be sent to representatives of Parties, range states, GOs and NGOs in more than 130 countries. In a separate report, information guidelines will be presented on the various solutions devised for mitigating or avoiding collisions and electrocutions. This includes both technical as well as legislative information and will be retrieved from published sources and from the aforementioned enquiries. This project is being implemented with the kind support of RWE Rhein-Ruhr Netzservice GmbH.

The following time schedule is foreseen:

- Start of project December 2010
- Sending out enquiries February 2011
- Collection of all information Spring 2011
- Deliver draft reports August 2011
- Deliver final reports October 2011
- Present review/guidelines at CMS/COP 10 November 2011
- Present review/guidelines at AEWA MOP5 May 2012
- Present review/guidelines at CMS Raptor MoU MSS1 2012

Implementing team of consultants

Leading contractor

Bureau Waardenburg (the Netherlands) is an independent research and consultancy agency in the field of ecology, environment and landscape. The company was founded in 1979 and now employs more than 60 people specialized in ecology (ornithologists, animal ecologists, aquatic ecologists, marine ecologists, vegetation experts), geography, environmental law, nature management, statistical analysis and GIS. The scope of activities focuses on bird ecology, aquatic ecology and nature & landscape. Annually, more than 500 projects are carried out in the fields of nature conservation and management, nature legislation, research and monitoring, both in the Netherlands as well as abroad. International projects have been carried out in Europe (UK, Germany, Denmark, Portugal, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine and Moldova) as well as in other continents (Ghana, Guinee, Guinee-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bonaire and Gabon).

Since 2006 Bureau Waardenburg is involved in EIA's for new high voltage power lines in the Netherlands and provides recommendations to the grid administrator for the minimisation of impacts on nature. This includes field research into collision victims and flight behaviour with radar at existing power lines, testing and studying new types of wire markings as well as writing up reviews on the issues involved from a W-European perspective. For more than 10 years the consultancy has been involved in field studies at wind farms, both off shore and on shore and both in the Netherlands and abroad. With this we have built an extensive knowledge about flight behaviour and collision risks of birds with man-made structures in open landscapes. Recently, Bureau Waardenburg chaired a scientific symposium on collision risks with overhead power lines and mitigation measures at the 7th European Ornithologists' Union Conference in Zurich in August 2009. This has resulted in a thorough overview and exchange of information between and good contacts with research organisations involved.

For more information on this project for AEWA and CMS please contact:

Further involved:

Gerard Boere (the Netherlands) graduated in 1971 with a MSc. Degree in zoogeography and palaeontology from the Free University of Amsterdam. Subsequently, he completed his PhD studies on the international significance of the Dutch Wadden Sea as a moulting area for arctic and sub-arctic waders. From 1977-1987 Gerard headed a team for Flora and Fauna Conservation and Research of the National Forest Service. Through his PhD and National Forest Service activities he developed a great interest and network in international conservation issues focusing on migratory birds and wetlands. Thus from 1987 onwards Gerard joined, as a Senior Officer, the Division for International Nature Conservation in addition to starting with a part time secondment to the Bonn Convention to support its general development and in particular the development of what is now the African Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA). On an international level, Gerard headed the Dutch delegations to the Ramsar, Bern conventions and coordinated the Dutch-Russian cooperation. On the national level Gerard was responsible for many Dutch funded programs to support wetlands and migratory bird conservation worldwide. Furthermore, he facilitated the establishment of the Wetlands International and BirdLife Europe Offices in The Netherlands.

The Wildlife and Energy Programme of the Endangered Wildlife Trust

(EWT WEP) from South-Africa has worked with bird-power line interactions since the 1970s. This was formalized into a strategic partnership with Eskom, South-Africa's national electricity supplier in 1996. Today this partnership, designed and implemented by Africans, serves as a model to the electrical utility industry worldwide on how to address the problem of wildlife mortality caused by electricity networks through non-confrontational, co-operative management. EWT WEP has amongst others been involved in design and maintenance of a database of wildlife mortalities in South-Africa, research on the design and implementation of mitigation strategies to reduce negative wildlife interactions with electricity infrastructure (both collisions and electrocution), capacity building within the electricity industry through dedicated training and awareness programmes on the impact of and solutions for wildlife impacts on electricity networks and strategic input into industry environmental policies, guidelines and practices.

For more information: www.ewt.org.za

STRIX Consultancy (Portugal) is a consultancy company offering services on three main strategic areas: Environment, Renewable Energies and Innovation. Established in 2001, it started as an environmental consultancy company for the Portuguese energy sector and main utilities. With the growth of the renewable sub-sector, STRIX soon specialized on electrical companies and environmental impact assessment of large renewable energy projects and subsidiary power lines with a strong emphasis on their impact on protected areas and species, becoming a national reference on environmental impact assessment and monitoring. Nowadays, STRIX offers strategic consultancy for national and international utilities and electrical companies offering a wide range of technical services.

STRIX has participated on several projects on the impact of power lines and birds. The services provided included impact assessment of power lines and other electrical infrastructures, bird monitoring, land planning and species/habitats management planning. In the last five years STRIX has coordinated 15 EIAs and its team members collaborated as sub-contracts in other 40 EIAs of power lines and related energy projects. Some of the most relevant work on this issue includes:

Impact of power lines on the population of Bonelli's Eagles Hieraaetus fasciatus in Southern Portugal, for a LIFE funded project;

Monitoring the impacts of power lines on birds, for EDP and REN (Portuguese electrical distribution and transport companies), coordinated by Birdlife Portugal (SPEA), Quercus and ICNB;

Monitoring impact of Tunes-Estoi high voltage power line on Bonelli's Eagles Hieraaetus fasciatus;

- Monitoring impacts of Barão de S. João Wind Farm and power line on migratory birds;

- Elaboration of protocols for implementation of mitigation measures for five power lines in Portugal.

Additionally, STRIX has been frequently involved in projects aiming the definition of management and action plans with conservation purposes and policy reports. STRIX has an active collaboration with Migres Foundation (Spain) - that leads the main European project on migration of soaring birds - and EuroMigrans, the network project aiming the exchange of information and methodologies on migration in the Western Palearctic. STRIX has taken part on several missions to North Africa (Morocco and Mauritania) and the Near East (Turkey) that resulted in a fine knowledge of nature, species, conservation issues and main parties in these regions.

For more information: www.STRIX.pt