The new Otis magazine will be winging its way to letterboxes in the next few days!
Posted on Thursday, September 6th, 2012
? Romania Takes Action to Avoid the Construction of Wind Turbines in Prime Great Bustard Habitat
Until recently there had been plans for the con- struction of a wind farm within and around a Special Protection Area (SPA) and Natura 2000 site in the Salonta region, Bihor County, Romania, which pro- vides important wintering habitat for the Great Bustard (Otis tarda). The CMS Secretariat raised con- cern about the possible negative impact of the wind farm and offered technical assistance to help main- tain the Salonta ecosystem.The Secretariat has now received confirmation from the Romanian Ministry of Environment and Forests that the Government is committed to relocate the wind farm to an alter- native location thereby limiting conflict with Great Bustards, Saker Falcons (Falco cherrug), White-tailed Eagles (Haliaetus albicilla) and Eastern Imperial Eagles (Aquila heliaca).
The Great Bustard is the heaviest flying animal alive today.The European population is estimated to be between 35,600-38,500 individuals, but there has been a rapid decline in much of Central and Eastern
Europe. Therefore, the Great Bustard, listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List, is protected through a CMS Memorandum of Understanding, which Romania signed in 2000 and which entered into force June 2001. At the 2nd Meeting of Signatories (November 2008, Ukraine) it was acknowledged that popula- tion trends were improving in Germany, Austria and Hungary. However, there was a concern that the population trend might be negative in Slovakia, Ro- mania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
The wind farm was planned to be constructed in the Salonta region, north-west Romania. The area, as part of the Great Hungarian Plain, mainly con- sists of grasslands and cereal cultures and is known as an important breeding and wintering habitat for numerous bird species. Since Great Bustards are particularly sensitive to infrastructures, such as wind turbines, buffer zones are advised. The Milvus Group Bird and Nature Protection Association, a Romanian NGO, recommended sufficiently large buffer zones between the wind turbines and recent Great Bustard sightings and proposed that the whole wind farm be sited further towards the east.
The conflict with infrastructure is likely to be high on the agenda of the Third Meeting of Signatories to the Great Bustard MoU, which is tentatively scheduled for spring 2013.