Aerial Seabird Survey


Before embarking on any major offshore wind farm project it is a requirement to assess the potential impact of the scheme on the wider environment and balance any potential impacts against the benefits of the project. When working offshore one of the key elements of any environmental impact assessment (EIA), is a detailed study of how seabirds utilise the proposed development site. Often many of the features which make a site suitable for an offshore wind farm also make the site attractive to seabirds with rare or endangered seabird species living or feeding in the areas identified for development.

Blom has worked closely with experts from the National Environmental Research Institute (NERI), in Denmark, to develop an effective method for surveying and modelling seabirds in challenging offshore locations. Using high resolution 4-band digital imagery captured from an aircraft, Blom is able to gather data on the behaviour, composition, distribution and number of seabirds without disturbing them in any way.

Once the area is flown and the imagery acquired Blom’s partners at NERI carry out the analysis using advanced object based analysis and complex statistical algorithms, to produce detailed seabird distribution and density models for the study area. This analysis includes various environmental covariates to improve the accuracy of the results and can be presented as standard GIS files, or as a written report to form part of a wider EIA process.

The Blom aerial imagery based approach to seabird surveys has a number of advantages over traditional human observer based studies. The surveys are less subjective with results based upon repeatable statistical modelling based on defined parameters and not subject to the variance of human interpretation. The survey is faster, allowing for over 500km2 to be acquired in a single days flying and subsequently modelled. The modelling process is rigorously documented at all stages providing a permanent record for independent audit. 

Species specific monitoring

Impact assessments must take into account the different species within the area as different species will respond differently to the presence of wind farms. The statistical modelling carried out is designed to provide an accurate model of species types.

Initial Population Studies

As part of the planning and design phase the existing population, species and distribution needs to be modelled to allow for impact assessments to be made and incorporated into the design.

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