Nearly 70% of animal species migrate away from wind farm areas, according to Finnish research. Some species move as far as five kilometers away from wind farms.
A study by the Natural Resources Institute, Finland, published in the journal Biological Conservation, reviewed current international research on wildlife and wind turbines. In total, 84 studies from 22 countries were reviewed to identify 160 cases with information on how far away wind turbines affect different groups of birds and mammals.
The researchers found that 63% of bird species, 72% of bats and 67% of terrestrial mammals move away from areas where wind turbines are installed. In addition, mating and offspring production decreased. In particular, birds showed changes in mating behavior and increased offspring mortality.
The distance animals moved away from wind farm areas varied, even within species. However, reindeer, owls and cranes typically moved five kilometers away from wind farms. Bats moved an average of one kilometer away.
Different factors influence
– It should be noted that the effects and distances showed significant variation even inside a single species, depending on the individual’s age and gender, the monitoring period and the study methodology used, says researcher Anne Tolvanen in a press release, adding:
– What is more, individuals of the same species, such as many bats, could both avoid wind turbines and gather around them. Access to nutrition was regarded as one reason for this.
Tolvanen cautions that more research is needed, but urges wind developers to use her study when planning construction to minimize negative impacts on nature and habitats.
An earlier study by the University of Turku also suggests that wind turbines drive bats away from their habitats. Ornithologists on Gotland have also warned that wind turbines are the biggest threat to Swedish birds of prey today, and have called for the demolition of some of Sweden’s wind turbines by 2022.