CAIRO: Wind farms are a main risk to birds migrating across Egypt, according to a report released by the Ministry of Environment earlier this year. A group of environmental experts attending a workshop Sunday discussed ways to protect migrating birds, including the possibility of shutting down wind farms during migration season, the ministry said Monday.
The head of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, Ahmad Abu el-Souod, opened the workshop with Vice President Mahmoud Attiah of the New and Renewable Energy Authority and Central Administration of Biodiversity head Waheed Salama.
Souod said the EEAA organized a monitoring program in Gabal el-Zayt during the second half of the migration season last spring to study the numbers, kinds, and behavior of migrating birds. The agency also manages a conservation project aiming to coordinate measures by different sectors across the country to make birds’ migration paths safer.
Officials in attendance discussed reaching a unified vision through a series of coordination meetings to implement the necessary standards to ensure the birds’ safety, especially from wind farms along the Red Sea but also from hunting.
The EEAA will make the required plans to protect the environment and form the necessary policies, the ministry statement said.
“Migratory Soaring Birds protect biodiversity in any country across the world and have a lot of environmental benefits,” environmental expert Ahmed Abdel Gawad told The Cairo Post Tuesday.
He added that authorities should protect these birds as well as take the necessary measures to ensure they do not carry disease or breed with local birds, which could affect local species.
Bird watching could potentially help revive tourism in Egypt, Gawad said, by attracting tourists to observe the birds in their migration paths.
“The Rift Valley/Red Sea flyway is the second most important flyway for Migratory Soaring Birds in the world and the most important route of the Africa-Eurasia flyway system,” the UNDP says on its website.
According to the UNDP, more than 1.2 million birds of prey and 300,000 storks migrate through this corridor between Europe, West Asia and Africa each year. The Migrating Birds’ Conservation Project will be a link between energy and biodiversity sectors in Egypt, the UN program said.
Egypt’s Ministry of Environment is working on the Migrating Birds’ Conservation Project in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Bird Life International to protect the vital migration route.
The project is expected to ensure that wind turbines will not be placed in the pathways of Migratory Soaring Birds in Egypt.
The Ministry of Environment stated in a report that “protecting wild birds in general is a sign of a healthy ecological system, as their disappearance is a sign of a decline in biodiversity.”
There are 34 locations in Egypt which are vital for birds migrating globally, the ministry said, adding that electrical towers as well as windmills and hunting can be fatal to the birds.
The ministry said more than 1.5 million birds of 37 different species fly along the Red Sea coast each year, and the project is focusing mainly on this flyway. Five of the species are endangered.