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Über dieses Buch

This book presents a review of the state-of-the-art knowledge on the interactions between biodiversity and wind energy development, focused on the Portuguese reality. The volume addresses the particularities of the impact assessment procedures in Portugal, contrasting it with the international practices and presenting its main findings by covering the following broader themes: i) evaluation of spatial and temporal dynamics of wildlife affected by wind farms, including birds, bats and terrestrial mammals (in particularly Portuguese wolf population); ii) the methodologies used to assess impacts caused by this type of developments in biodiversity; iii) the best practice methodologies to implement an adaptive management approach to reconcile biodiversity and wind farms.

The knowledge presented in this book was gathered through the research and development activities developed by Bioinsight company (former Bio3 company) during the last 13 years and partially funded by a R&D project designated as “Integrated solutions for biodiversity management at wind farms: reduce and compensate bird and bat mortality” (acronym: Wind & Biodiversity), co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER), under the Regional Operational Programme of Centre (Mais Centro).

This volume fills a void in the literature as a book giving insights on the best practices to install and manage a wind farm from a biodiversity management point of view, while establishing a commitment between economic sustainability and biodiversity conservation.



Chapter 1. Wind Industry in Portugal and Its Impacts on Wildlife: Special Focus on Spatial and Temporal Distribution on Bird and Bat Fatalities

Exponential growth of the wind energy industry in Portugal entails a non-negligible pressure on wildlife, especially on bird and bat communities that must be studied. In this chapter, a general characterisation of the wind energy industry in mainland Portugal is provided, in association with a quantitative analysis of the direct impacts identified over the past 10 years. Aiming to identify the species most affected by wind turbine-caused fatalities, we analysed the reports of 44 monitoring programmes pertaining to wind farms in their operational phase conducted between 2005 and 2015. The information gathered from these reports, combined with the general characteristics of the territory and the timeframe when fatalities happened, highlighted both spatial and temporal fatality hotspots for the bird and bat communities. Our analysis revealed a higher fatality concentration in northern Portugal and, although several of the affected species are widespread and of least conservation concern, they are migratory and have known fatalities in neighbouring countries. Such findings emphasise the importance of studying the impacts at a regional scale, using a single framework, since the cumulative effects on the populations’ viability are currently unknown and require further investigation.
Joana Marques, Sandra Rodrigues, Rita Ferreira, Miguel Mascarenhas

Chapter 2. Impacts of On-shore Wind Farms in Wildlife Communities: Direct Fatalities and Indirect Impacts (Behavioural and Habitat Effects)

In addition to its immense environmental benefits, the great expansion of wind energy generates simultaneous concerns about its adverse impacts. The impacts have been identified for human populations, landscape and wildlife, but, due to direct fatality, birds and bats are the groups for which scientists are most concerned. Due to renewable energy goals, Portugal has witnessed a great development of wind energy in recent years, with a substantial part of its mountainous areas occupied by on-shore wind turbines. In this chapter we present a literature review on the major impacts that wind energy has on birds and bats, but also in terrestrial mammals, because of the evidence of disturbance and/or displacement of more sensitive species, mostly during the operation phase. Despite there are few published data, we focus the research on Portuguese examples. Some considerations of evaluation of the impacts and cumulative impacts are also made.
Pedro Pereira, Nuno Salgueiro, Sílvia Mesquita

Chapter 3. Environmental Impact Assessment Methods: An Overview of the Process for Wind Farms’ Different Phases—From Pre-construction to Operation

Although significant progress has been made into better understanding interactions between biodiversity and wind farms, providing accurate and reliable assessment methods that allow studying the real effects of these projects is of major importance. Focusing on the Portuguese wind energy development current status and by referring to other international guidelines , the currently applied general procedures were compiled in a step-by-step process, from pre-project development to the operation phases. Today, legislation stipulates that impact assessment is mandatory for most of the energy development projects in Portugal, including wind energy. Wind farm impact assessment starts—in most cases—with baseline studies to allow prediction of the main impacts expected on wildlife, as well as the presence of endangered species and/or landscape features. This may lead to the need for layout adjustment or the definition of mitigation measures on site. When a project is approved, even if it is assumed that the major impacts have been identified and mitigated, that does not mean that it is free of negative effects. It is of major importance that the real impacts are evaluated during construction and operation phases based on the methods applied during pre-construction. In addition, the establishment of a reference area to compare with the wind farm situation is fundamental. These temporal and spatial features should be assessed by a before-after-control-impact design. A basis of the sampling and data collection methods is also addressed in this chapter according to most commonly targeted biodiversity (fauna and flora). Techniques vary from standard field surveys by one or more observers to the use of less common and more recent technologies.
Joana Santos, Joana Marques, Tiago Neves, Ana Teresa Marques, Ricardo Ramalho, Miguel Mascarenhas

Chapter 4. An Overview on Methods to Assess Bird and Bat Collision Risk in Wind Farms

Wind farms present several impacts on wildlife. However, the scientific community, as well as environmental practitioners, have focused most of their attention on bat and bird collision and fatality impacts. As a result, an increasing variety of methods have been developed to assess the risk of collision in wind farms during both the pre-construction phase and the post-construction phase. This chapter provides a review of the main methodologies that are currently used to address collision risk in wind farms (collision risk models, indexes and other tools) at both the international level, as well as in Portugal. In this review, a brief description of each analysed methodology is presented, and a comparison of limitations, advantages and disadvantages is made, in light of Environmental Impact Assessments studies. Final remarks are given with regards to the Portuguese context in terms of methodologies currently in use, and new tendencies to assess collision risk. A case study is presented demonstrating a simple and practical method for estimating collision risk. Developed in Portugal and in use since 2007, this method is currently used to relate risky behaviour of the common kestrel observed across a Portuguese wind farm with turbines where higher levels of fatalities of the species occur.
Sandra Rodrigues, Luís Rosa, Miguel Mascarenhas

Chapter 5. The Indirect Impacts of Wind Farms on Terrestrial Mammals: Insights from the Disturbance and Exclusion Effects on Wolves (Canis lupus)

Due to the technical and functional characteristics of wind turbines, impact assessment studies have focused mainly on flying vertebrates. Nevertheless, evidence from the little available knowledge indicates potential impacts on large terrestrial mammals resulting from habitat fragmentation and increasing human disturbance . Over the last 15 years, more than 900 wind turbines were built inside the range of the Portuguese wolf. Due to the endangered status of this large carnivore in Portugal, several monitoring plans were conducted, resulting in a reasonable amount of information being collected on the effects of wind farms on wolves. We reviewed the methodological approaches, compiled major findings and summarised the mitigation/compensation measures used in Portuguese wind farms. The overall outcomes show increasing human disturbance in wind farm areas, resulting in lower wolf reproduction rates during construction and the first years of operation, as well as shifts in denning site locations of more than 2.5 km away from the wind farm. These findings are of major concern in humanised landscapes, where suitable wolf breeding habitats are reduced. As precautionary measure, new wind farm projects should be restricted in areas that are closer than 2 km from known wolf denning locations.
Gonçalo Ferrão da Costa, João Paula, Francisco Petrucci-Fonseca, Francisco Álvares

Chapter 6. Comparing Field Methods Used to Determine Bird and Bat Fatalities

Wind energy production across the globe has grown over the years and Portugal is no exception. Like other forms of energy production, wind energy causes ecological impacts and these impacts are a matter of major concern. One of the impacts caused by operating wind farms is bird and bat casualties due to collision with the wind turbines. Since real mortality is very difficult to determine, due to the impossibility of detecting all carcasses and the probability of carcass disappearance before being detected, field methods for collecting data and estimating mortality have been implemented. Regular searches around wind turbines are implemented to detect carcasses. The protocol of searches must define the size of the searched area, the search method, the duration and frequency of the searches according to guidelines and the objectives of each study. To correct the observed mortality and estimate real mortality, correction factors, such as the probability of carcass persistence or the carcass detection rate, must be assessed by field trials. For Portugal, a search area of 5 m more than blade length and random walk or zig-zag methods resulted in a cost-effective way to collect carcasses. A frequency of 1–3 days is recommended in order to reduce the bias of mortality estimates. If a considerable number of removal trials had to be carried out, camera-trapping was revealed to be a cost-effective method. Otherwise, a carefully planned traditional method also obtained accurate estimates. For detection trials , the use of models is recommended and the number of models and the design should be adapted to homogeneity or heterogeneity of vegetation cover.
João Paula, Margarida Augusto, Tiago Neves, Regina Bispo, Paulo Cardoso, Miguel Mascarenhas

Chapter 7. Estimating Bird and Bat Fatality at Wind Farms: From Formula-Based Methods to Models to Assess Impact Significance

The impact of the operation of wind farms on birds and bats in terms of true fatality is still unknown. However, fatality numbers can be estimated using statistical methods that have improved over recent years, aiming to provide a closer representation of the real ecological conditions. To assess which statistical methods have been used to estimate bird and bat fatality in the Portuguese context, we analysed 225 wind farm fatality monitoring reports, published between 2005 and 2015, and concluded that the methodology is not standardised. Importantly, the estimators used to calculate fatality differ amongst the environmental specialists and over time. These findings can hamper an integrated analysis of the impacts caused by wind farms at a national scale and bias the importance of cumulative impacts. We also reviewed the most recently published fatality estimators in order to better understand their applicability to the Portuguese private environmental consultancy context. Our analysis identified the criteria that most influences the implementation of a valuable fatality estimation methodology and assembled a list of considerations that a best practice guidelines protocol can be based upon for application at both the regional and national scale.
Joana Marques, Luísa Rodrigues, Maria João Silva, Joana Santos, Regina Bispo, Joana Bernardino

Chapter 8. How to Design an Adaptive Management Approach?

Wind energy has some negative impacts on biodiversity (the most significant include mortality due to collision, barrier effect and/or disturbance). It is crucial to develop new approaches that reduce the uncertainty, and promote a compromise between economic sustainability, biodiversity conservation and social requirements. Adaptive management is presented as an approach that allows all of this. We review the current published knowledge regarding adaptive management and its application to wind energy projects and biodiversity. A step-by-step process is presented and detailed, including the discussion of relevant issues at each step. The set-up phase is crucial during project planning and allows the evaluation of different scenarios. The iterative phase is a sequential process of action and decision-making where actions are adjusted as a result of the monitoring results. Crucial factors to the success of adaptive management for a given wind farm are the involvement of different stakeholders and the capability to be a dynamic process, allowing for adjustment as a result of monitoring. A national case study is illustrated to demonstrate a comprehensive approach of adaptive management that goes beyond Portuguese legislation and promotes the involvement of several stakeholders and focus their concerns on key impacts. In the future, it is expected that this approach might be developed in line with all the Environmental Assessment Process allowing the inclusion of: (i) a detailed planning of the different phases of the project; (ii) the definition of different mitigation scenarios for expected impacts and evaluation of their costs; and (iii) the establishment of limits to the level of impacts deemed acceptable.
Helena Coelho, Silvia Mesquita, Miguel Mascarenhas


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