Biodiversity protection
Bonelli’s eagle no longer flying solo

On 2 January, with bright sunshine and unseasonably clear blue skies, a Bonelli’s eagle kicked off the year flying over the Alt Camp area between Tarragona and Barcelona. What might have seemed like a routine flight was actually a very special one. That morning the flight was not taken alone. A group of experts ‘took to the skies’ with her with the help of a GPS device.

There is a particular reason though for fitting this geolocation device to follow this eagle’s every movement. Red Eléctrica de España has launched a 12-month project to monitor all the movements, foraging behaviour and habitual flight routes & routines of the Bonelli’s eagle in this specific area of the Catalan region. Studying the behaviour of this type of bird will help in defining the route to be taken by a new electricity line in this area, guaranteeing that the routines of this species are not altered in any way.

 “Our priority is to make the development of the transmission grid facilities compatible with the protection of biodiversity, minimising any potential impacts it may have”, stated Mr. Antonio Calvo, Manager of Institutional Relations and Sustainability Area.

This project, a pioneer in the field of birdlife, started in early January with the participation of environmental experts from the Regional Government of Catalonia, the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge and the company MN Consultors (conservation sciences consultants). After reviewing the health of the bird in question, the team of experts fitted a harness, which has an integrated GPS device, to the eagle and the bird was then released. During the twelve-month term of the project, the working group will collect data that will help Red Eléctrica to draft a reliable map of the areas through which the bird flies and its flight paths and routes. Thus, the Company will be able to select and define the best possible route for a new line avoiding any interference within the rural environment. Additionally, it will help further knowledge concerning the habitat of this species.

Bonelli’s eagle, a species of enormous environmental importance in the Alt Camp area, has suffered a decrease in its numbers in recent years, mostly due to human intervention. Known by scientists as Aquila fasciata, its habitat extends from the Mediterranean basin to Southeast Asia and in Spain its most important populations are in the regions of Extremadura, Andalusia and Levante. This project for the protection of this eagle species is one of the many that Red Eléctrica has been carrying out for many years as part of its biodiversity conservation strategy. Its protection is, without a doubt, one of the fundamental principles in the development of the Company's activity within the framework of Spanish and European legislation.