The wind energy sector is steadily growing, and the number of wind turbines is expected to expand across large areas of the globe in the near future. While the development of wind energy can contribute to mitigating climate change, it also poses challenges to wildlife, particularly birds, due to increased collision risk with wind turbines. Here we quantify and map potential conflicts between the potential for wind energy development and the distribution of terrestrial soaring birds. We explore the relationship between species traits (including body mass, migration ecology and extinction risk) and exposure to potential wind energy development, and identified areas of potential conflict between wind power production and soaring bird conservation. We considered the full range of each species, as well as separately analyzing the breeding, non-breeding and passage ranges for migratory species. We show that exposure to potential wind energy development is similar for soaring and non-soaring bird species. Within different parts of the range of soaring bird species, passage distributions have significantly higher potential for wind energy development than the full, breeding or non-breeding ranges. Moreover, exposure to potential wind energy development was higher within the ranges of heavier soaring bird species and those that are migratory. We show that areas of conflict between soaring bird conservation and potential wind energy development could be very large, particularly when the passage ranges of soaring bird species are considered. Such areas of potential conflict are largely unprotected. This highlights a risk for soaring birds from potential wind energy development wherever it is not carefully sited in order to minimise environmental impacts.
Mapping the global potential exposure of soaring birds to terrestrial wind energy expansion
Title: Mapping the global potential exposure of soaring birds to terrestrial wind energy expansion
January 01, 2018
Journal: Ornis Fennica
Publisher: Birdlife Finland
Santangeli, A.; Butchart, S.; Pogson, M.; Hastings, A.; Smith, P.; Girardello, M.; Moilanen, A. (2018). Mapping the global potential exposure of soaring birds to terrestrial wind energy expansion. Ornis Fennica, 95(1), 1-14.