Invisible impact of wind farms on the wildlife.

Recently I was asked if wind farms will threaten invertebrates and reptiles while protecting birds.

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Often pre construction surveys fail to audit micro fauna. While not 'huggable' species, their presence is often a barometer of ecological stability.

Regrettably, very few pre construction surveys audit the invertebrates on proposed wind farms. The construction of roads (10m wide) and turbine platforms (30m X 100m) often destroy habitat for Scorpions, snakes and reptiles. So, instead of protection, they pose a threat to them. Fortunately, in phase three and four of wind farm development in South Africa, the DEA has ensured there is a small level of protection through ‘search and recovery’ before the onset of construction.

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The competition for geo soaring by birds and optimal wind for wind turbines results in fatal collisions.

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With regards to the birds, collision with turbines is the largest threat to avian species. Initially it was theorized that collisions would be limited to raptor species. In reality, as the first wind farms in South Africa came on stream this year, all species are susceptible to collision. We have records of species across the spectrum such African Stonechat, Blue Korhaan and Black Harrier, all species which do not normally fly in the collision zone of turbines.

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