Portal for improved bird protection

RGI and the German branch of BirdLife ("NABU") launched an initiative in 2017 to improve the information basis for bird protection measures for new and existing power lines.  An online portal allows everyone to report the finding of a dead bird to NABU where an ornithologist collects and analyses the obtained information.

The context

Birds are exposed to a variety of risks. By far the biggest and most complex risk results from the intensified use and changes made to bird habitats by humans. In addition to this, there are direct risks which affect almost all European bird species to a different degree. This includes that birds are being hunted, that they become the prey of cats, hit windows, get caught by the slipstream of heavy transport vehicles or that they collide with overhead power lines.

The project

NABU and German transmission system operators have been working on reducing the collision risk for birds for years. They do this especially by installing so-called bird protection markers at critical sections of power lines. Moreover, sensitive bird populations are considered early on in the development of new power lines.

The idea of a portal, by which members of the public can contact NABU upon finding a dead bird around a power line, was developed to be able to identify critical line sections even faster and build upon the insights in future planning processes. For the first time, NABU and the involved transmission and distribution grid operators jointly and systematically collect data to improve the information base upon which they identify where there is a need to act and what is the right approach to increase bird protection.

Once registered by NABU, the information is analysed by an expert ornithologist and uploaded to an interactive map of Germany, which contains different layers of information on bird finds, electricity grid pathways, presence of certain birds and special protected areas (SPAs). This is then used to inform the most important mitigation measures (such as visible bird markers) on the overhead lines.

So far, there are 7 German grid operators taking part in the project: all 4 transmission system operators (TSOs - 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT and TransnetBW) as well as 3 distribution system operators (DSOs - Bayernwerk, Netze BW, Westnetz).


Liam Innis
Manager - Energy Ecosystems

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RGI gratefully acknowledges the EU LIFE funding support:

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Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the LIFE Programme. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.