New guide seeks to protect migratory birds from risks of wind farms

AMMAN — With the majority of the country's wind farms either established or scheduled to be established in Tafileh Governorate, conservationists on Tuesday called on government and investors alike to follow safety guidelines to prevent the loss of migratory birds due to the renewable energy projects’ infrastructure.

Tafileh, located 83 kilometres southwest of Amman, falls on the Rift Valley-Red Sea flyway, which is considered the world’s second most important flyway, according to conservationists, who stressed the "great risks on biodiversity, and migratory birds in particular" caused by the construction of most of Jordan's wind farms in Tafileh, which hosts the Dana Biosphere Reserve.

The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature has put together a new guideline ensuring the safety of migratory birds while using the Rift Valley-Red Sea flyway, according to RSCN’s Bird Projects Unit Director, Tareq Qaneer.

“The guide specifies what the government and investors should consider when selecting the site of a wind farm, establishing the project and during the operation phase of the project in order to minimise wind farms’ impact on birds,” Qaneer told The Jordan Times.

The guide also stipulates that the construction of wind energy projects should not be allowed inside nature reserves, adding that, if such projects are established near “environmentally sensitive areas,” an environment impact assessment should be implemented ahead of construction.

It also indicates that wind projects should carry out a three-year monitoring programme on the impact of the project on birds, according to Qaneer, who said that upon completion of the programme, a decision on whether the project can remain operational or not will be taken.

“The guidelines have been referred to the Ministry of Environment, which approved them and now plans to make then part of its licensing draft law,” the director highlighted.

More than 1.5 million birds belonging to 37 species, five of which are globally threatened, annually use the Rift Valley-Red Sea flyway, according to the RSCN.

As a signatory to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals in 2002 and the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement in 1999, Jordan is obligated to protect different species, including the migratory soaring birds that pass through the country in spring and autumn every year, the society said in previous remarks on the issue of wind farms and their impact on birds.