Collision risk and habitat loss: wind turbines in forests impair threatened bat species

From Tallbloke’s Talkshop

January 20, 2023 by oldbrew

German forest with wind turbines

The research team ‚concludes that wind power development in forests must be avoided‘, if at all possible. Not what climate obsessives want to hear, but hardly surprising news. More scientific evidence of what was already known.
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More than 30,000 turbines have already been installed on the German mainland so far, and the industry is currently scrambling to locate increasingly rare suitable sites.

Thus, forests are coming into focus as potential sites, says Berlin’s FVB research institute.

A scientific team from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) now demonstrated in a new paper published in the scientific journal “Current Biology” that wind turbines in forests impair endangered bat species: Common noctules (Nyctalus noctula), a species with a high risk of colliding with rotor blades, are attracted to forest wind turbines if these are located near their roosts.

Far from roosts, common noctules avoid the turbines, essentially resulting in a loss of foraging space and thus habitat for this species.

The research results show that common noctules suffer in two ways from wind turbines in forests: If the wind turbines are built near roosts, noctules face an increasing risk of colliding with the turbines, and they lose foraging habitat because they avoid wind turbines far from roosts.

In their paper the team concludes that wind power development in forests must be avoided or, if there is no alternative, should be undertaken with great care and caution. The wind turbine should be placed at least at a distance of 500 meters away from bat roosting sites, and loss of foraging habitat should be compensated for by taking forests out of use for wind power (or other anthropogenic activities) elsewhere.

Wind energy production is an important pillar for the energy transition to renewable energies in Germany and makes a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Approximately eight percent of wind turbines in Germany have already been built in forests. This number is expected to significantly increase in the coming years as suitable sites in open landscapes become increasingly scarce.

“A large number of bat species occur in forests because there are many tree roosts and suitable foraging habitats with a high abundance of insects, their prey”, says Christian Voigt, head of the Department of Evolutionary Ecology at the Leibniz-IZW.

“These include species such as the common noctule, which is the most common victim among the bat species of wind turbines in Germany. According to the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), common noctule populations are declining throughout Germany. It is therefore a matter of urgency to take a closer look at the interaction of bats with wind turbines in forests.”

Full article here.