Migratory Soaring Birds (MSB) tranche II Energy and Egyptian Vulture New LIFE” (LIFE16 NAT/BG/000874) project are being implemented to contribute to the conservation of migratory soaring birds in the Rift Valley/Red Sea flyway which is one of the most important routes of the Africa-Eurasia flyway system. Every year, over 2 million birds of prey and 300,000 storks migrate along this corridor between their breeding grounds in Europe and West Asia and wintering areas in Africa. Among the 37 species of MSBs which use the flyway, five of them are globally threatened in including the Egyptian Vulture.
MSBs are facing great risk during their migration due to unfriendly practices in Hunting, Energy, Agriculture, Waste Management and Tourism sectors. Lack of enough conservation effort especially in wintering countries lead to increased risks. Ethiopia is an important country with respect to conservation of the MSBs that uses this migratory corridor. 35 of the priority 37 MSBs including the 5 globally threatened species uses the route in Ethiopia. Energy and Agriculture sectors have been identified as priority sectors posing the greatest threats to MSBs and have been selected for mainstreaming interventions in Ethiopia. The aim of mainstreaming is to secure practices in both sectors that guarantee conservation of MSBs along the flyway region.
Through the MSB Project, a number of tools have been developed to support best practices in the sectors (listed above) that pose the greatest risk to the birds. For energy sector, apart from a suite of guidelines that have been developed for various renewable energy sectors and powerlines, an online free-to-use Sensitivity Mapping Tool has been developed.
Ethiopian Natural History Society (EWNHS), Ethiopian Electric Utility (EEU), Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) and Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) has signed a quadripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to effectively implement activities that enable mainstreaming of MSBs conservation consideration in the Energy sector.
Among the project activities Bird Sensitivity Mapping Tool training” is one of the activities designed to enhance capacity of experts of EEP and EEU working in the environment impact assessment and related sectors. Sensitivity mapping tool enables developers, planning authorities and other interested stakeholders to get crucial information in the form of reports. The tool provides information about Important bird areas, tracks of the migrating birds, the name and number of birds among other things. These as a result will have high impact on any planed project to be commenced along the flyway by augmenting decision making.
Accordingly, a one-day Bird Sensitivity Mapping Training was conducted on July 13, 2021 at Addis Ababa. The training has been conducted to,
• Introduce participants about wildlife & power infrastructure interactions
• Create awareness on the best practice tools developed by the MSB Project in the energy sector
• Acquaint the participants with skills and knowledge about environmental challenges related to Planning for energy projects, Power generation, Transmission and Distribution and how negative impacts can be averted or mitigated.
• Demonstrate use of sensitivity mapping tool to EEU and EEP, EWCA and EWNHS experts as a tool to support decision making for planners and policy makers
• Expose the participants with first-hand experience on the impact of energy infrastructure on birds
The training was attended by experts and directors from environment, engineering, research and planning directorate of EEU, EEP, Oromia EEU, East Shewa EEU and EWCA which are key partners to MSBs Tranche II-Energy and Egyptian Vulture New LIFE projects. The training was delivered by Dr Bruktawit Abdu, an Ornithilogist and Conservation Biologist based at the Kotebe Metropolitan University.