As climate change represents one of the key threats to biodiversity, there is increasing focus on the development of alternative energies. Wind energy is actually the most prominent form of alternative energy being developed in Europe as it seems to help to reduce pollution from fossil fuels. However, it has also a high potential to cause damage to parts of the ecosystem, especially if cumulative developments in the areas of installation increase these effects. The recent development of wind energy in Europe has given rise to concern to nature conservation interests, especially against the background of evident damage to flying birds and bats and some lack of administrative guidance in planning, installation, impact and monitoring studies. Some of these problems have been recognised at international level as by the Bern Convention with their report on “Windfarms and birds” (T-PVS/Inf (2003) 12). Currently an Intersessional Working Group (IWG) of EUROBATS is working at guidelines for wind turbines and bats which will be proposed to the next Meeting of the Parties in 2006 (see also: www.eurobats.org).
Actually, only few guidelines for wind farm developers or for nature conservationists during the planning and installation process or on the minimization or mitigation of effects on wind turbines on bat populations are available, although there is an urgent need for both sides (NLT, 2005; Rahmel & Bach, 2004). The development of wind farms is currently in full expansion within all of Europe and the possible negative impacts of wind turbines on bats are evidenced. Although there is still an ongoing need for further detailed research, bat conservation must start to collate all available information and knowledge to come up with best practice guidelines for planning, installation, environmental impact assessment as well as long-term monitoring studies.
This article gives a short overview of the situation in Germany and will try to give suggestions for an english guideline. It should not be taken as a final and consensed version since this task still has to be carried out. We also greatly acknowledge the important work of all bat workers who contributed to this synthesis.