Tag Archives: Maestrazgo

A wind farm project is halting the reintroduction of the bearded vulture in the Maestrazgo.

Environmentalists believe the Maestrazgo is an ideal area for the bearded vulture, but a wind farm project is halting the reintroduction of the bearded vulture in the Maestrazgo for the foreseeable future. Read about the Maestrazgo here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/maestrazgo-global-geopark/

The Foundation for the Conservation of the Bearded Vulture (FCQ), in agreement with environmental authorities, has decided to suspend the release of threatened species in the Maestrazgo region (Teruel) until the size of the planned wind farm is finalized.

The organization is highly critical of this wind farm project, stating that the high risk of collision and death for the vulture species makes it impossible to proceed. This is the first case in Spain where a moratorium has been imposed on a reintroduction project of a threatened species due to incompatibility with a wind turbine field.

Bearded Vulture in flight by Jaume Ventura Nualart
The birds will not be able to avoid the 125 wind turbines in eight municipalities of the Teruel Maestrazgo. Bearded Vulture in flight by Jaume Ventura Nualart (https://www.facebook.com/jaume.ventura.18)
Life Corredores Ibéricos por el Quebrantahuesos project

Founded in 1995, FCQ has successfully brought back the bearded vulture, which in the past century only survived in the wild in the Pyrenees and the Picos de Europa, where it now breeds. Their objective with the Life Corredores Ibéricos por el Quebrantahuesos project was to replicate this success in the Sierra de Gredos and the Teruel Maestrazgo. Last year, they released four specimens, two in each area, with plans to continue releasing annually until 2027.

Juan Antonio Gil, general secretary of FCQ, describes the Maestrazgo as one of Spain’s best Mediterranean mountainous areas. He emphasizes its ecological value and suitability for reintroducing the vulture, with abundant resources and minimal threats to the species. Gil criticizes the approval of the megapark without considering these factors.

Almost 9,000 dead animals but the official data is inconsistent

The FCQ study collects official data on fauna mortality in wind complexes. However, they found “uneven levels of transparency” after requesting accident rate information from communities. Detailed reports from Aragon (5,264 birds and bats killed between 2017 and 2022) and Navarra (1,253 deaths in the same period), both with extensive wind installations, contrast sharply with those from Galicia, reporting barely five deaths despite adding nearly the same number of wind turbines as Aragon and Navarra combined in 2021. Some regions did not provide data. In total, the report records 8,823 animal deaths in wind complexes across seven communities in the last five years. The search for these bodies is irregular due to predation.

According to a recent study by two experts from FCQ, reintroducing birds is “incompatible” with turbine installations. After months of analyzing flight patterns and space usage in the Maestrazgo, they found that bearded vultures, along with griffon vultures, could have collided up to 745 times with the projected wind turbines within a year.

The Discord Wind Project

The discord wind project, managed by the company Forestalia, is the country’s largest authorized by the Ministry for Ecological Transition. It consists of 125 wind turbines spread across eight municipalities of the Teruel Maestrazgo, with another fifty projects planned in neighboring regions. These authentic giants, nearly 200 meters from base to blade tip, require access tracks and energy evacuation lines.

Forestalia wind turbines
The company in charge of the project, Forestalia, state some incredible green aspirations on their website with their views of a better renewable future. Its not all “green sailing” though: https://forestalia.com/

The original plan for the so-called Maestrazgo Cluster included the construction of 22 wind farms with a total of 161 turbines and two solar farms. The Spanish ministry for the ecological transition, which was in charge of environmental permitting, left 125 turbines in the project design and eliminated 36. In a previous step, Forestalia, acting in response to public consultation, changed the position of a different group of 36 turbines to lessen the environmental and visual impact and make the most of the wind resource, the company said.

“They want to implement an industrial model with serious repercussions for biodiversity, leading to the loss of other more sustainable activities such as ecotourism. It is a missed opportunity for the species and the region,” says Gil.

The FCQ has already informed the ministry, the Government of Aragon, and the European Commission, upon which all Life programs depend. Gil goes on to explain that the Commission has left the decision in their hands, and if the megapark proceeds, they will have to reconsider whether to continue releasing specimens. Meanwhile, the FCQ plans to redirect the young to the Picos de Europa national park and the Sierra de Gredos, where they will face fewer threats.

The FCQ has filed an official appeal against the discord wind project.

The article “A wind farm project is halting the reintroduction of the bearded vulture in the Maestrazgo” has been translated from the original in Spanish here: https://www.lavanguardia.com/vida/20230724/9128789/parque-eolico-frena-reintroduccion-quebrantahuesos-maestrazgo.html and has also been published (in Spanish) here: https://quebrantahuesos.org/un-parque-eolico-frena-la-reintroduccion-del-quebrantahuesos-en-el-maestrazgo/

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