Brazil faces dilemma: Endangered macaw versus wind farm

Published May 24, 2023
LEAR’s macaws fly over a reserve near a biological station run by NGO Biodiversitas, close to a wind energy complex, in Canudos, a town in Brazil’s Bahia state.—AFP
LEAR’s macaws fly over a reserve near a biological station run by NGO Biodiversitas, close to a wind energy complex, in Canudos, a town in Brazil’s Bahia state.—AFP

CANUDOS: A wind farm in north-eastern Brazil sounds like a welcome climate-friendly energy solution, but it is causing controversy over another kind of environmental worry: the impact on the endangered Lear’s macaw.

Home to more than 90 per cent of Brazil’s booming wind-power industry, the northeast is known for strong, steady winds that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva wants to harness to power a green-energy revolution.

The region has drawn the interest of French renewable energy company Voltalia, which broke ground in 2021 on a 28-turbine, 100-megawatt wind farm in semi-arid Canudos county, in the state of Bahia.

But the project soon came under attack when it emerged that the enormous turbines, with their nearly 400-foot diameter blades — a known threat to birds in flight — were being built in a nesting region for the Lear’s macaw, a bright blue parrot also known as the indigo macaw, or by its scientific name Anodorhynchus leari.

The wind farm is “very risky,” said Marlene Reis, of the Lear’s Macaw Gardens Project, an organisation trying to save the species. “It could considerably increase the risk of extinction,” she said.

And the damage “could be irreversible, especially for these iconic macaws, who only live and reproduce in this region.”

A federal court halted the final stage of construction on the turbines in April, revoking Voltalia’s permits.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2023

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