Building pioneering projects in sensitive ecosystems may initially appear counter-intuitive, but by working with local people to monitor critical habitat, a renewable energy scheme was secured for the benefit of local communities and the conservation of endangered species.
Ramboll assisted our developer client to undertake best practice standard pre-construction biodiversity survey work for birds, bats, habitats and other fauna. Subsequently, Ramboll prepared the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) for the project setting out the operational monitoring on site, in the wider area and the actions to be taken to deliver a net gain for key species such as hooded and white-backed vultures.
Delivering renewable energy in West Africa
The 158.7MW Taiba N’Diaye wind farm (Parc Eolien Taiba N’Diaye [PETN]) is the first large wind farm in Senegal, will provide a 15% increase in electricity generation capacity for the country and provide power for over 2 million people. PETN is designed to generate electricity for at least 20 years.
Populations of some African vulture species have collapsed in recent decades for a variety of reasons, leading to species such as hooded vulture and white backed vulture to be reclassified as critically endangered and endangered respectively. Both species occur in the area of the project and so it was critical to the success of the project that it could be demonstrated that its construction would not result in significant adverse effects for the species.
After completing surveys of the proposed site which demonstrated extremely low levels of usage by vulture species, a year-long bespoke survey was designed and completed which investigated how and when vultures used the wider landscape. A clear seasonal pattern of activity was identified, with vultures congregating in the wet season on the edges of towns and cities where feeding opportunities are greater than the open agricultural areas of the project site.
In order to engage the local community, provide employment and gather information crucial for the project, local people were trained by Ramboll specialists to undertake post-construction surveys. Surveyors were trained in undertaking carcass searches and the calibration surveys required to calculate searcher efficiency and scavenger bias. These surveys are ongoing and to date show negligible impacts from collision on bird species.
- According to the IUCN Red List, the total Hooded vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus) population size is maximum of 197,000 individuals. Currently this species is classified as critically endangered and its numbers are decreasing
- A 2017 study focussing on hooded vulture status in Dakar (Senegal’s capital, located approximately 80 km to the south-west of the wind farm site) identified an 85% population decline from 3,000 in 1969 to 400 in 2016. Key contributing factors discussed are urbanisation, poisoning of feral dogs and loss of nesting/roosting trees (Mullie et al, 2017)
- Ruppell's vulture (Gyps rueppelli) is a large vulture that can be found throughout the Sahel region of central Africa. The current population of 22,000 is decreasing due to loss of habitat, incidental poisoning and other factors
- Once fully operational the Taiba N’Diaye wind farm capacity will be 158.7 MW, a 15% increase in electricity generation capacity for the country, providing power for over two million people
- Five surveyors were trained to undertake the post-construction surveys: two members of the forestry service and three teenagers from the village of Taiba N’Diaye. Surveyors were trained in undertaking carcass searches and the calibration surveys required to calculate searcher efficiency and scavenger bias. These skills can be used on other wind energy projects in future.