Library filed under Impact on Birds from Asia
In a bid to save the Great Indian Bustard (GIB), currently on the brink of extinction, Indian government’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has asked wind power developers to identify the bird’s critical habitats in Rajasthan and Gujarat and take risk mitigation measures against bird hits, one of the causes of the reducing population of the bird.
Study coauthor Professor Maria Thaker said: 'We have known from many studies that wind farms affect birds and bats. 'They kill them and disrupt their movement. But we took that one step further and discovered that it affects lizards too. 'Every time a top predator is removed or added, unexpected effects trickle through the ecosystem.
In new research, an international team of scientists studied the effects of wind turbine use in the Western Ghats, a UNESCO-listed range of mountains and forest spanning India's west coast region and a global "hotspot" of biodiversity. They found that predatory raptor birds were four times rarer in areas of plateau where wind turbines were present, a disruption that cascaded down the food chain and radically altered the density and behaviour of the birds' prey.
The committee heard testimony last week that the rotating blades of the nine 540 ft. tall turbines could decimate the red falcon population in the area.
Deserts, often considered wastelands, are crucibles of spectacular wildlife, but they are threatened by India’s ambitious renewable energy generation target of 175 GW by 2022. The ecological footprint of an individual wind turbine or solar panel might be negligible, but massive wind or solar farms require huge swathes of land. Roads are constructed to lug turbines, and earthmovers rip through forests or grasslands, permanently altering the landscape.
“European conservationists generally consider the habitat loss associated with windmill development to be a greater threat to bird populations than collision fatalities.There is evidence that construction of windmills renders habitat unsuitable for birds as it has been found that grassland bird densities were higher on grasslands without wind turbines, than on areas with wind turbines."
Reduction in avian activity in the study area was noticed with the increase in the number of wind farms. Despite the small footprint of an individual wind turbine, the associated infrastructure development causes a wider habitat modification and destruction, resulting in a displacement effect for the birds," said Pande.
Prospective wind-farm operators will find it harder to take final investment decisions than those planning solar projects, as they must go through tough and potentially lengthy environment approval processes from October due in part to worries that more wind farms will kill more birds flying into windmill blades.
There are at least two dozen dead white storks in this photo taken in Saudi Arabia after they flew into the power lines — part of a wider problem in which millions of birds die every year by flying into obstacles put up by people.
Operators of wind turbines are already under pressure to improve the structures' quake-resistance strength. Now, they face another problem with nature: endangered birds flying into the turbines' blades. The bird strike problem has become so serious that measures to protect the fowl are slowing the spread of wind power as a source of electricity generation. ... A total of 14 birds designated by the government as national treasures, including white-tailed sea eagles, have died at different sites by flying into completed wind turbines.
Kutch used to have 10 to 15 nests of the white backed vultures till a couple of years ago. This year, just a lone nest has been found. Where once there were more than 70 birds, now only 10 to 15 remain. When birdwatchers got together to look for a possible reason for the sudden drop in number of these birds, they attributed it to the wind farms that have come up in the area in the last one year.
Yet when the National Planning Committee (NPC) approved plans for building a wind turbine farm directly on the path of the migration flyway, SPNI came out in strong opposition..."Of the 90,000 birds migrating over, the flight path of roughly 10,000 passed directly through the air space where the wind turbines are planned. Obviously these birds would have been in great danger of collision with the blades," says Alon. Weekly surveys were conducted during the winter, and daily migration surveys resumed on March 1st, 2005. "During the spring of 2005, bird observers counted another 200,000 plus birds, mostly White Storks of which a minimum of 15,000 crossed over the proposed turbine farm within the range of the blades.
ASAHIKAWA, Hokkaido–Wind turbines that grace the terrain of this northern region may soon be painted fire-engine red and lit up at night: not for aesthetic reasons, but to stop low-flying birds from crashing into the whirling blades. With reports of rare bird species being killed off by wind turbines in Hokkaido and elsewhere, companies that operate them are scrambling to find effective yet economically viable methods to make the units more environmentally friendly.
The [Japanese] Environment Ministry is urgently trying to find ways to stop migrating birds from crashing into wind turbines amid government plans to dramatically increase this form of power generation.