Major threats to some bird species include collisions with power lines, electrocution, and disturbances during their breeding season. These threats cause the deaths of millions of individuals in Europe yearly and in some cases seriously threaten the viability of species populations.
Some European species are more vulnerable given their size, morphology, behaviour, and distribution. Thus, the project targets 13 species most impacted by power lines in France, Belgium and Portugal: Little Bustard, Bearded Vulture, Bonelli’s Eagle, Cinereous Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Lesser Kestrel, Common Crane, Osprey, White Stork, Black Stork, Eurasian Woodcock, Eurasian Curlew, Northern Lapwing.
SafeLines4Birds project relies on four main goals:
To tackle collision, the project aims to install 3,880 anti-collision diverters on the most dangerous sites. However, those devices are not suitable in all situations and their success rate varies according to species or geographical factors. Therefore, new anti-collision devices will be tested, such as the American ultra-violet Avian Collision System Avoidance system (ACAS), which uses shining UV light on power lines to make them more visible to birds at night. Moreover, innovative installation methods of collision avoidance devices will be tested within the project, such as the use of drones. In some cases, lines will be placed underground to completely eliminate the risk of collision and electrocution in particularly high-risk areas.
There is a strong scientific consensus that the risk of bird electrocution depends on the technical construction and detailed design of electric facilities. In order to reduce this risk, dangerous power poles will be retrofitted and insulated, and deterrence devices installed at the higher risk sites. Platforms and perches will also be set up to protect birds that roost or nest.
Finally, to avoid disturbance, grid maintenance and surveillance methodologies will be adapted – where possible in line with the breeding periods of the target species – to improve their breeding success. As much as possible, flying over breeding sites will be avoided and use of helicopters will be limited.
All results collected will be shared in an open and standardised way, benefiting the understanding about bird-grid interactions and the effectiveness of the tested mitigation measures. A SafeLines4Birds open digital platform will be created to centralise all technical information gathered during the project. This will facilitate the dissemination of knowledge regarding technical innovations and equipment across Europe and, through this, support the replication of actions in other countries.
The success of these actions relies on the collaboration of 15 consortium partners, which include Transmission System Operators (TSO), Distribution System Operators (DSO), NGOs and scientific experts from France, Belgium, Portugal, Germany, and the United States.
Relying on existing partnerships in France, Belgium and Portugal, the project is coordinated by the Ligue Pour La Protection des Oiseaux (LPO France), the French branch of BirdLife. The other French partners are Enedis (DSO), Réseau De Transport D'électricité – RTE (TSO), LPO Pays De La Loire, LPO Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, LPO Occitanie and LPO Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur (local NGOs). Those partners created in 2004 the Avifauna National Committee that aims to reduce the impacts of energy infrastructure on biodiversity and initiated the project SafeLines4Birds. In Portugal the project partners are the Sociedade Portuguesa Para O Estudo das Aves - SPEA (NGO) and E-Redes (DSO), and in Belgium Natuurpunt, Natagora (NGOs) and Elia (TSO).
Joining those partners, EDM International, a US-based corporation, brings a team of wildlife biologists and avian specialists to the consortium. BIOPOLIS-CIBIO is a Portuguese research centre associated to the University of Porto contributing to the project with their expertise on the biodiversity impacts of energy infrastructure through collaborations with TSOs and DSOs in Portugal and across Europe. Finally, RGI brings its expertise in facilitating multi-stakeholder exchanges between diverse partners and its extensive experience coordinating and implementing activities related to the communication and dissemination of projects.
Building on extensive experience, RGI is in charge of the communication and dissemination of the project results as well as the networking actions and the facilitation of multi-stakeholder exchanges. In the case of SafeLines4Birds, this is crucial for finding agreements between all stakeholders in the target countries.
Amongst others, RGI will also be in charge of the development of the SafeLines4Birds digital platform targeting all stakeholders concerned by the issue, including NGOs, TSOs, DSOs and suppliers of devices.
There will be various opportunities to engage throughout the project duration - also as a non-consortium partners - via exchange meetings, workshops and seminars. If you are interested to get involved, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.