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UN Wildlife Meeting Pushes to Make Power Lines Safer for Birds
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UN Wildlife meeting pushes to make power lines safer for birds

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guidelines document

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CMS COP10 Norway, interview Hein Prinsen


International Reports Address Impact of Power Lines on Migratory Birds, Offering Solutions to Avoid Collisions and Electrocution

- PRESS RELEASE - Bergen, 24 November 2011 -Two new 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.

The two documents,

- Review of the Conflict Between Migratory Birds and Electricity Power Grids in the African-Eurasian Region 

- Guidelines on How to Avoid or Mitigate the Impact of Electricity Power Grids on Migratory Birds in the African-Eurasian Region 

will be reviewed by representatives from close to 100 governments and several key wildlife conservation organizations attending the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), an international wildlife treaty administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Power lines constitute one of the major causes of unnatural death for birds both through electrocution and fatal collisions. At end of 2010 there were 70.5 million kilometers of power lines throughout the world, constructed with minimal consideration for their environmental impact. This is expected to increase to 76.2 million kilometers by the end of 2015.

The review shows that in the African-Eurasian region alone, hundreds of thousands of birds die annually from electrocution and tens of millions of birds from collision with power lines. In general, large birds seem to be more affected.

For some large, slow reproducing bird species which migrate across this region, such as pelicans, storks, flamingos, birds of prey, cranes, bustards and owls, the death toll could possibly lead to population declines and/or local or regional extinction.

In South Africa, for example, 12% of Blue Cranes, South Africa's national bird, and 11-15% of Ludwig's Bustards are dying annually in collisions with a growing number of power lines.

According to the review, hot spots for electrocution are especially found in open habitats lacking natural perches or nesting trees for the birds, such as steppes, deserts and wetlands.

Bird collisions, on the other hand, occur in every habitat type in the region, with hotspots, for example, located in areas where large numbers of birds congregate, such as near water bodies or in migration corridors.

The international review presents a current overview of the existing research and corrective measures undertaken by some countries and electricity power companies in the region to avoid bird mortality from collisions and electrocutions by power lines.

The guidelines, on the other hand, contain a set of concrete recommendations for governments, electric power companies and conservation organisations on how to avoid and reduce the impact of electricity power grids on birds.

"The international guidelines present a number of appropriate legislative and policy actions and some creative technical measures on how to mitigate and reduce the vast number of unnatural bird mortalities caused by electricity power gr