March 30, 2005

Conservationist doublespeak

Deutsche Welle reports today that NABU (Naturschutzbund Deutschland) has given industrial wind parks a thumbs up. Although a recent worldwide study by NABU estimates that 60 birds and 50 bats per year collide with the average turbine, and that this particularly puts birds of prey and some bat species at risk, German wind facilities are claimed to be miraculously exempt from these problems.

Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin says NABU's findings refute the "horror story" that industrial wind turbines kill birds. Excuse me, Herr Trittin, but the evidence appears to do the opposite.

The NABU report is available in German as a 644-KB PDF file. It includes a 3-page summary in English, which points out, as has Paul Kerlinger at a recent American Wind Energy Association workshop, that habitat displacement, degradation, and fragmentation also are serious threats to birds. They also note, "Wind farms had significantly negative effects on local populations of geese, Wigeons, Golden Plovers and Lapwings." And, "There was no evidence that birds generally 'habituated' to wind farms in the years after their construction." And, "In Germany the relatively high numbers of killed White-tailed Eagles and Red Kites give reason for concern. Germany hosts about half of the world population of breeding Red Kites and has a particular responsibility for this species."

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