Iberian Wolf Conservation issues – The context of Wind Farms effects on Wolves in Portugal


The need to tackle climate change, environmental pollution and to find sustainable methods to meet the increased demand for energy and power generation is critical being set out as primary goals worldwide.

Facing the need of reducing the carbon footprint worldwide, renewable energy sources are becoming increasingly important as power supplies. Wind power is an energy source free from direct carbon emissions and is considered one of the fastest growing renewable energy sources in several countries, Portugal included. However, environmental studies from the last decades have shown that wind power is not free from impacts on wildlife – understanding those effects and learning how to reduce them is of major importance.

Today, we have come a long way on the efforts of establishing a commitment between economic sustainability and biodiversity conservation by reconciling wind power industry and biodiversity.

What is the relation of Wind Farms and Wolves?

Bioinsight Scientific Expedition’s team, along with other members from the Bioinsight company group, Grupo Lobo, and several other Portuguese organizations are co-authors of the book “Biodiversity and Wind Farms in Portugal” recently published by Springer International Publishing AG (2018).

This book presents a review of the state-of-the-art knowledge on the interactions between biodiversity and wind energy development, focused on the Portuguese reality by covering several themes.

Regarding large mammals, we have dedicated a complete Chapter to this group, focusing specially on wolves (Canis lupus) given its current endangered and legal status in Portugal. In this chapter, based on monitoring plans that have been conducted by the authors for the last 15 years, we aimed to summarize available knowledge about wind farms effects on wolves in Portugal, along with insights about methodological approaches as well as mitigation and compensation measures.

Wolves are an adaptable species, and their ability to coexist with humans for centuries in such a human-dominated landscape as Portugal has been the key factor for their persistence despite an intense human persecution. However, wolves can cope with human activities and disturbance only to a certain level and in the context of an increasing anthropogenic interference on worldwide habitats, the recent wind farm development can become a major concern when other cumulative factors also occur. Further research on the effect of wind farms on wolves is still needed but the results from monitoring programs conducted in Portugal already provide valuable insights on the concerns and recommendations that should be taken in account when developing wind farm projects within wolf range.

We invite you to take a closer look at the book and to share your insights in the comment section!

Gonçalo Ferrão da Costa, João Paula, Francisco Petrucci-Fonseca & Francisco Álvares. The Indirect Impacts of Wind Farms on Terrestrial Mammals: Insights from the Disturbance and Exclusion Effects on Wolves (Canis lupus). IN: Mascarenhas, M., Marques, A.T., Ramalho, R., Santos, D., Bernardino, J. & Fonseca, C. (Eds). Biodiversity and Wind Farms in Portugal: Current Knowledge and Insights for an Integrated Impact Assessment Process. Springer International Publishing. DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-60351-3.

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