27 Oct 2023 .

Industry collaboration launches good practice guide for onshore wind bird and bat monitoring

Birds flying past turbine at sunset

A collaboration between International Finance Corporation (IFC), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and German bank KFW, along with technical advisory consultancies Natural Power and Western EcoSystems Technology (WEST), has launched a good practice handbook on post-construction bird and bat fatality monitoring (PCFM) for onshore wind energy facilities (WEFs) in emerging market countries and its decision support tool (DST).

The idea for the handbook began when the Energy Task Force* identified that PCFM for onshore winds was urgently required to preserve the diversity of the ecosystems around onshore wind developments, especially in emerging markets, and that a standardised approach was needed to help developers and operators in those markets.

Lori Anna Conzo, Global Biodiversity Lead at International Finance Corporation, said: "This Handbook and Decision Support Tool has been developed by wind wildlife practitioners and informed by experts globally to guide the process for monitoring and evaluating the scale of impacts on birds and bats at wind energy facilities in a credible, robust manner.

"More than this, the Handbook aims to be a comprehensive resource for the wind wildlife practitioner. From detailed explanations of the principles underpinning PCFM design, and advice on PCFM for WEF-associated powerlines, to sections covering analysis, adaptive management, and reporting as well as practical advice on how to prepare and conduct fieldwork, step-by-step instructions on conducting analysis using the ‘gold standard’ software GenEst, even a full set of PCFM field data forms.

"As the wind energy sector expands globally, we hope that these resources will be made full use of and will contribute to a consistent and informed approach to post-construction fatality monitoring at wind energy facilities."

This resource is designed for industry, governments, and conservation groups and provides practical guidance on the design and implementation of PCFM methodology at wind farms that aligns with good international industry practice. It also helps promote the global standardisation in methodologies for monitoring bird and bat fatalities so that fatality rates can be better compared across sites, landscapes, countries, and regions. Although the handbook is principally designed to account for collision risks, the methods were also developed to assess impacts of electrocution on birds and bats at associated power lines.

Natural Power acted as technical advisor throughout the project with representation on the steering committee, and key personnel contributing to the content, chapter reviews and responsible for the development of the form templates for field work. In early, 2020 WEST developed DST software to monitor the post-construction data, and Natural Power was brought in to conduct rigorous testing. The insights gleaned during this extensive process were also used to help inform the handbook content.

An official launch workshop was held at the recent CWW conference in Croatia. Hosted by Zoe Howell, Senior Geospatial Data Analyst at Natural Power; David Tidhar, Biodiversity Manager at Masdar (formerly at Natural Power); Paul Rabie and Kate MacEwan from Western EcoSystems Technology Inc.; and Lori Anna Conzo and Simon Hulka from International Finance Corporation; who were the main contributors to the handbook, each presented at the launch. The handbook and tool were well received during the event which attracted 56 international delegates from both established and emerging markets including Australia, China, Ireland, Spain, Turkey and Vietnam.

Zoe Howell, Senior Geospatial Data Analyst at Natural Power, said: “It was wonderful to see the workshop attended by such a diverse and engaged audience. We had individuals there with years of experience to those who are implementing their first PCFM study, so it was great to see how the core principles of the handbook are applicable to all.

"This handbook would not have been possible without the dedicated work of the steering committee and wider support from the bird and bat conservation community as a whole, so I would want to again say thank you to all those contributors and to CWW for facilitating the workshop."

Find out more and download the handbook and decision support tool here.

*Established in 2016 and coordinated by BirdLife, the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Energy Task Force works towards reconciling renewable energy development with the conservation of migratory species.