Impact of terrestrial wind farms on diurnal raptors: developing a spatial vulnerability index and potential vulnerability maps

Authors: José C. NOGUERA, Irene PÉREZ and Eduardo MÍNGUEZ

E-mail: josec.noguera@uvigo.es

Published: Volume 57(1), June 2010. Pages 41-53.

Language: English

Keywords: conservation, raptors, spatial vulnerability index, vulnerability maps and wind farms

Summary:

The use of wind energy resources is currently increasing worldwide as a method of obtaining renewable and non-polluting energy. Nevertheless, wind energy development has several potential adverse effects on avian communities. Therefore, suitable location for futures wind farms seems critical to minimise adverse effects on birds. In this study we adapted the indices proposed by Garthe and Hüpop (2004) for offshore wind farms to a terrestrial wind farm as a method to identify more sensitive raptors and to detect high vulnerability areas for wind farms. We constructed two indices: a raptor sensitivity index (RSI) and a spatial vulnerability index (SVI). The RSI included seven factors derived from the attributes of species that have been considered important in assessing the impact of wind farms on birds. Using an RSI and relative habitat use estimation, an SVI was calculated and a potential vulnerability map was produced for Boquerón mountain range in Valencia region. Golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos, shorttoed eagle Circaetus gallicus and booted eagle Hieraaetus pennatus, together with other species such as griffon vulture Gyps fulvus were the more sensitive species to wind farm. The SVI distinguished zones in which either the elimination or change of position of turbines might reduce the impact of the wind farm foreseen. The SVI might be a useful tool for environmental impact assessment (EIA) to select the best location of new terrestrial wind farms or the sections of them.

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