6 Nov 2014

Renewable energy and migratory birds

Renewable energy infrastructure must be sited in the right way to minimise the impact on nature (Duncan Brown; flickr,com)
By Martin Fowlie

The development of renewable energy is crucially important – but it must be in the right way and the right place. Without proper planning, energy developments, including wind turbines and power lines, can be a major threat to migratory birds. The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) provides a unique forum to gather best practice from around the world and share it amongst Parties, the energy industry, financial institutions and other stakeholders, helping to minimise the impact of renewable energy developments on migratory species.

At the 11th Conference of the Parties of CMS in Quito, Ecuador, BirdLife coordinated an event on Renewable Energy, Powerlines and Migratory Species. The draft Renewable Energy Technologies and Migratory Species Guidelines for Sustainable Development developed collaboratively between International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), CMS, AEWA and BirdLife were presented by Jan van der Winden, Bureau Waardenburg, followed by an update on the BirdLife Migratory Soaring Birds Project, which is mainstreaming considerations of migratory birds into the energy industry (Marcus Kohler, BirdLife International).

Examples of cutting-edge approaches were presented from Scotland (Colin Galbraith, Scottish Windfarm Bird Steering Group) and South Africa (Hanneline Smit-Robinson, BirdLife South Africa). The panel was joined by Gerhard Adams, Federal Ministry for the Environment Germany, who expressed Germany’s support for CMS work in this area.

CMS COP is considering a draft resolution on renewable energy and migratory birds, based on a comprehensive review of impacts and mitigation approaches. The draft resolution, strongly supported by BirdLife, proposes the establishment of a global Energy Task Force, initially to focus on African-Eurasian birds. This will help implement global guidelines on renewable energy which it is hoped COP11 will adopt, together with previously endorsed guidelines on powerlines.