The elation among birders and conservationists over the news that the Great Bustard is to be reintroduced into its former habitat on Salisbury Plain in England is tempered by the increasing threat to the survival of the population in Land Brandenburg in eastern Germany.
The first count of the Great Bustard in Germany in 1939/40 recorded a population of 4,100 individuals. With a few small exceptions in Lower Saxony and Thuringia, the birds habitats were located principally in the former GDR in the provinces of Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania and Saxony. The last individuals in the latter 2 provinces died out in 1980 and 1994 respectively. The Brandenburg population declined from 2,900 in 1934 to about 100 at the present time. These, together with a small group in Saxony-Anhalt, constitute the last remaining Great Bustard population in Northern Europe.
The stability of the population in Brandenburg is wholly due to the efforts of the Förderverein Großtrappenschutz e.V. over a number of years. The survival, and indeed gradual increase of these groups of birds, has attracted eco-tourists to the otherwise economically weak province, and the Great Bustard has become an unofficial emblem of Land Brandenburg. All of this is now threatened by the rapid and uncontrolled expansion of the wind power industry.
|Bustards and Turbines
Over 90% of the German Great Bustards live in 3 breeding groups in the Havelland-Fläming region. Intensive private and governmental protection measures since 1997 have facilitated an increase in the population to some 100 individuals at the present time. There are now however already 100 wind turbines in the area and the erection of many more are being planned. The present plan for wind energy lists 17 suitable sites, 9n of which would negatively influence Great Bustard habitats. Despite appeals by conservation organisations, and court judgements in their favour, the responsible Brandenburg ministries either ignore their own guidelines and obligations and disregard obligations under international agreements such as the EU Bird protection guidelines or the Bonn Convention.
The survival of Great Bustard in Brandenburg is now acutely threatened!
WHAT YOU CAN DO!
The local conservations fighting for the introduction of extensive protective guidelines for the Great Bustard and other important flora and fauna need all the support they can get. International solidarity, particularly from
other EU member nations, is crucial.
You can add your support this by mailing or faxing the letter below and/or a German version prepared by the internet magazine Alula here
*A letter from the Proact Team - 780 signatures - will be sent by post to ministers on 01 December 2003
REMOVE THE THREAT TO THE BRANDENBURG GREAT BUSTARDS THROUGH UNCONTROLLED WIND PARK PLANNING
Per email to:
Ministerpräsident Matthias Platzeck
Minister Wolfgang Birthler
Dear Minister President Platzek
Dear Minister Birthler,
Not least since German reunification in 1990, conservationists in many countries have followed with interest the hard work of the Brandenburg "Förderverein Großtrappenschutz e.V." to rescue and stabilise the last small Great Bustard population in Germany and Northern Europe. Their success has promoted the Great Bustard to unofficial Land Brandenburg emblem, and the presence of the birds regularly attracts much needed eco-tourism into the economically weak Brandenburg region.
The news that work has begun on the erection of a wind park within an International Bird Area (IBA), and immediately adjacent to the Great Bustard nature reserve on the Karower Platte and the European Bird Protection Area Fiener Bruch, is therefore alarming. It is further surprising that the responsible ministry has ignored the judgement of the Potsdam administrative court in August this year, which declared the permit to build as illegal and stated that it presented a considerable threat of disturbance to the Great Bustard and its habitat as well as a physical danger to the birds during their redeployment to food sources in winter. This development of this wind park, together with others already in the consultation and planning process, must not permitted to proceed to the disregard of the rich but fragile flora and fauna of Land Brandenburg
Although the exploitation of wind power as an alternative to fossil fuels or nuclear energy is generally welcomed, many people - not only conservationists - have become increasingly critical of the uncontrolled planning and erection of wind parks. Our remaining intact flora and fauna are also an important natural and cultural resource. Their disturbance or destruction represents not only a loss to the biodiversity of the natural world; but will have irreversible consequences for our environment. It is therefore essential that the responsible authorities in Land Brandenburg urgently revise the regulations for the erection of wind parks in the Havelland-Fläming region with particular regard to national and regional liabilities for nature protection under the European Union guidelines for the protection of birds and the Bonn Convention on the protection of migratory species.
It is particularly ironic that the news of the threat to extremely rare and attractive bird should coincide with the announcement of plans for its reintroduction to its former habitat on Salisbury Plain in southwest England. It would be a shame if this development represented a substitute for the North German population and not a welcome increase and diversity of the species in Europe.
We urge you to put an immediate stop to the erection of wind turbines in the Karower Platte area; rescind the illegal permit to build; and remove all construction elements from the area. We also appeal to you to urgently review and revise regulations for the erection of wind parks in the Havelland-Fläming region in respect of nature conservation aspects. In this we fully support the continuing efforts of the NABU Brandenburg and the Förderverein Großtrappenschutz e.V. and remain,
(Name and address)
Ministerpräsident Matthias Platzeck
Postfach 60 10 51
Minister Wolfgang Birthler
Ministerium für Landwirtschaft, Umweltschutz und Raumordnung
Postfach 60 11 50
with copies to:
Förderverein Großtrappenschutz e.V.
Tel. 033878 / 60257
Fax 033878 / 60600
P.O. BOX 11B
40003 Ustí nad Labem 3