With great concern for the birds, TreeHugger has posted a series of articles on the problems of wind turbines and bird flyways. We sent a post to one of our favorite green groups - The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) - and were surprised to learn that Israeli ornithologists are involved in monitoring wind turbines and bird migration. One of their conclusions is that perhaps Israel should not operate wind farms at all.
Writes Michelle Levine from the SPNI:
Dan Alon, head of the Israel Ornithological Center (the IOC is also under the umbrella of SPNI), is currently doing research on wind turbines and birds. I'm pasting an article below which I wrote with IOC ornithologist Zev Labinger on this subject regarding our research on wind turbines and migration here in Israel.You can read Michelle's article after the jump. Since Israel signed the Kyoto Treaty, energy companies have been looking to develop alternative energy — a move one would imagine rather welcome to environmentalists. 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. "Almost the entire Palearctic breeding population of White Pelican, Levant Sparrow hawk Accipiter brevipes and Lesser Spotted Eagle pass through Israel each year," says Dan Alon. "The importance of these flyways to these species cannot be over-emphasized."
Twenty-three turbines are scheduled to be built at Mount Gilboa, the closest within a few hundred meters of an IOC raptor counting station. The remaining 40 turbines will be built at Ramat Serin, about 15 km to the north.
The NPC, heeding SPNI's warning, required the electricity company to carry out bird surveys a year in advance of any turbine construction, and for a year after their completion. The IOC was contracted to carry out this work and the first autumn migration counts began on August 22nd, 2004.
Working toward a Solution
"The birds we count are just those we can see during daylight hours. Many more migrants fly over at night, including millions of passerines, and even large birds such as cranes. If these turbines are going to be built, there has to be adequate mitigation measures incorporated within their operating procedures", says Alon. "SPNI has managed to convince the NPC that the electric company should not operate turbines when birds are passing, but how are they going to achieve this in practice?"