A large percentage of non-natural bird mortality is known to be caused by electrocution from and collision with power lines. To mitigate this impact, EDP insulated poles and installed signalling devices designed to improve the lines’ visibility for birds. These lines were identified by the NGOs collaborating with EDP Distribuição.
Since 2003, the practice is applied in continental Portugal including several protected areas (important bird and biodiversity areas, Natura 2000 Special Protection Areas). Beyond Portugal, the mitigation measures are suitable for implementation in any country with the same objective.
Bird mortality caused by power lines may contribute to population decline for several species, including endangered species with unfavourable conservation status. To reduce mortality and prevent the decline of species, EDP Distribuição and the NGOs identified black spots of power line-caused mortality for endangered species and assessed power line-induced mortality located inside protected areas.
Over 1,670km of power lines have been surveyed until today, leading to the development of risk assessment maps for some endangered species. The practice also developed new tools for mortality black spot identification and subsequent retrofitting with anti-collision devices and insulating poles as an anti-electrocution mitigation measure. The efficiency of the different implemented mitigation measures was assessed and quantified by monitoring mortality rates after the retrofit.
Beyond tackling the environmental impact of power lines, the practice showcases a model long-term cooperation between environmental authorities, an electricity distribution company and NGOs.
EDP Distribuição, the Portuguese electricity distribution company and part of the EDP group, collaborated with three environmental NGOs (SPEA, QUERCUS, LPN) and the National Authority for Nature Conservation (ICNF) through a technical commission assessing the interactions between overhead lines and birds (CTLEA).