Wind Farm Construction Impacts Reindeer Migration and Movement Corridors
Over the last decade, we have seen a massive increase in the construction of wind farms in northern Fennoscandia. Wind farms comprising hundreds of wind turbines are being built, with little knowledge of the possible cumulative adverse effects on the habitat use and migration of semi-domesticated free-ranging reindeer.
We assessed how reindeer responded to
wind farm construction in an already fragmented
landscape, with specific reference to the effects on use
of movement corridors and reindeer habitat selection.
We used GPS-data from reindeer during
calving and post-calving in the Mala˚ reindeer herding
community in Sweden. We analysed data from the
pre-development years compared to the construction
years of two relatively small wind farms.
During construction of the wind farms, use of
original migration routes and movement corridors
within 2 km of development declined by 76 %. This
decline in use corresponded to an increase in activity of
the reindeer measured by increased step lengths within
0–5 km. The step length was highest nearest the
development and declining with distance, as animals
moved towards migration corridors and turned around
or were observed in holding patterns while not crossing.
During construction, reindeer avoided the wind farms at
both regional and landscape scale of selection.
The combined construction activities
associated with even a few wind turbines combined
with power lines and roads in or close to central
movement corridors caused a reduction in the use of
such corridors and grazing habitat and increased the
fragmentation of the reindeer calving ranges.
Type: Staff Publications
Year of publication: 2015
Publisher: Landscape Ecology