The region of Thrace, in northeastern Greece, is of exceptional ornithological importance as it hosts habitats that are of European-wide significance mainly due to the presence of large birds of prey and aquatic birds, most of which are under protection and some of them are globally endangered.
Indicative of the ornithological value of the region of Thrace is the presence of 3 out of 4 vulture species found in Europe. More specifically, (I) the last remaining breeding colony of the Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) in the Balkans can be found in the Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli National Park (from here on Dadia National Park) in the Regional unit (RU) of Evros, (II) the most important breeding colony of the Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvs) in mainland Greece is located in the southern part of the RU of Evros, and (III) more than half of the last remaining breeding pairs of the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in Greece are located inside the RUs of Evros and Rodopi.
A large part of the region has been selected as priority area for the development of wind energy sources as it is one of the areas with the highest wind capacity in mainland Greece. Specifically, the biggest part of the RU of Evros and a part of the RU of Rodopi have been delineated as Wind Priority Area 1 (WPA 1) under the National Renewable Energy Spatial Pl;an framework. Within this area a significant number of wind farms (WFs) is already in operation. This number will increase considerably if the WFs that are at the planning stage are included.
WWF Greece (2013) believes that the development of renewable energy sources (RES) is important so that Greece can participate in the global efforts to mitigate climate change, to achieve a degree of energy safety and independence, as well as to enhance the wellbeing of people in the country. At the same time, WWF Greece emphasizes the need for a careful WF site selection process based on certain prerequisites so as to avoid the potentially negative consequences on wildlife, especially on birds. As noted by the European Commission (EC 2010) and the IPCC (Wiser et al 2011) WFs can have a significant negative impact on birds, especially when WF site selection falls within areas of increased ornithological interest, such as the Special Protection Areas (SPA) of the EU Birds Directive (2009/147/EU).
With the present report the 2008 proposal is updated. The update is necessary given new facts that are now available based on recent research conducted by WWF Greece in the region, as well as because of changes in the national environmental legislation that introduced important measures for the protection of the bird fauna and in general biodiversity. The research finding point to the undisputed conclusion that the development of WFs in the RUs of Evros and Rodopi must be drastically reconsidered in order to ensure the survival of the bird species and safeguard the region's ecological integrity, which is both legally and ecologically mandatory. The new proposal aims to the best possible guide for the installation of WFs in the region of Thrace while at the same time assist in the enforcement of recent legislative additions.