Collisions and electrocutions of birds with power lines constitute a threat to some species across the globe. In order to minimise bird mortality on planned or existing infrastructure, TSOs collect significant amounts of data on birds, however, whilst these data are used to guide decision making, they are seldom used outside of the context of a specific project. RGI saw the potential to improve our collective knowledge by finding ways to more effectively share study data on “bird grid interactions”. With a systematic collation of studies, meta-analyses could be done to better understand the drivers of bird collision/electrocution risk, the effectiveness of mitigation measures and ultimately provide science-based tools to guide route planning and mitigation measures.
In 2018, RGI teamed up with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to understand which data TSOs are collecting, what TSOs and NGOs see as the opportunities of improved data sharing as well as how this could best be practically achieved. Data was collected through a questionnaire and a workshop session. The BTO and RSPB produced a report of their findings, which included the below conclusions and recommendations:
(1) There is wide-recognition of the value of different types of data and information, and a positive attitude to working together across TSOs and NGOs. This was clear from both the questionnaires and workshop.
(2) Key data requirements include:
- access to bird occurrence / abundance data for SEA and EIA,
- sensitivity mapping to prioritise risk (e.g. Belgium, Portugal, Slovakia),
- information on mortalities, either as raw data for NGOs to be sure of impact or as peer-reviewed studies / reviews for TSOs to identify most vulnerable species, and
- information on mitigation effectiveness as reviews for TSOs to know what best to do.
(3) There are significant institutional barriers to TSOs effectively sharing data, as well as limited time available to invest, that would need to be addressed.
(4) A stepped approach might be adopted to foster increased data sharing and collaboration through time. This would require:
- the development of guidance around the field methods and data to be collected for EIAs and studies of impact and mitigation effectiveness,
- the sharing of meta-data / bibliography of studies of powerline impacts / mitigation effectiveness to increasing the visibility of relevant studies being conducted,
- a scoping study of the structure of data and information already being collected and shared, as a first step to developing a cost- and time-effective way of sharing data / information on a wide scale.
We intend to build on this work and help build a tool to better understand the drivers of bird mortality and the effectiveness of mitigation measures. We will keep you all updated on how this develops and how it can be of use to all of our work.