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Diver abundance remains stable despite further development of offshore wind farms

On 25 July, BioConsult SH, together with IBL and IfAƖ, has presented a study on the abundance of red- and black-throated divers in the German North Sea to more than 50 interested authorities, associations and representatives of the wind energy industry. This study, carried out on behalf of the Association of German Offshore Wind Farm Operators (BWO) under the leadership of BioConsult SH, is based on the best currently available data on the abundance and distribution of red- and black-throated divers at sea. Possible impacts of offshore wind farms on the population and habitats of the two diver species were investigated. A new geostatic approach allows for model predictions with high spatial precision.

With an average estimated abundance of 16,500 birds, the spring population of divers in the German North Sea remained overall stable over the study period between 2001 and 2018 even after the increasing development of offshore wind energy use of the last years. Despite a spatial shift in the area with major diver aggregations north-east of the island of Sylt, diver populations in this area are still stable. The area remains to be of major importance for resting divers in spring. Avoidance distances of divers towards wind farms differed depending on regional and seasonal aspects. The largest theoretical habitat loss of 5 km around offshore wind farms was determined for the northern part of the study area in spring.

The study is a further important step towards an as nature-compatible as possible further development of wind energy use in German waters. The report can be downloaded at:

https://www.bwo-offshorewind.de/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200306_diverstudy_v1-0_final.pdf