Conservation Biology Group

Threats and solutions

The electricity company Endesa dismantles a dangerous power line for the birds in ‘Gallecs’

The electricity company Endesa is dismantling some distribution power lines in the countryside area called Gallecs, an agroforestry area of great ecological and scenic value located in the ‘El Vallès’ plain. This is a natural area of about 700 ha of the municipalities of ‘Mollet del Vallès’, ‘Santa Perpètua de Mogoda’, ‘Parets del Vallès’, ‘Lliçà de Vall’, ‘Montcada i Reixac’ and ‘Palau-solità i Plegamans’. It was included in the Catalan Network of Areas of Natural Interest on 20th October 2009 (Decret 156/2009), and it is an oasis in the middle of large urban and industrial areas crossed by several infrastructures. Just the fact that it is one of the largest and best preserved areas of ‘El Vallès’ plain gives a great ecological value to this area, especially for many species of birds, not only for sedentary species, but also and especially for those who are just passing. Moreover, hunting with weapons is forbidden and organic farming is widespread in this area, so this allows populations of rabbits and Red-legged Partridges that attract different species of predators, especially raptors. For example, in winter and during the migrating period it is possible to spot quite a number of Harriers, Kites, Buzzards or Kestrels.

In addition, recently it is been observed that ‘Gallecs’ is a temporary settlement area (dispersal area) of non-adult Bonelli’s Eagles that find quite a good habitat in this area (food and not many hazards). As known, when young Bonelli’s Eagles  leave the parental territory they perform dispersal movements leading to be temporarily concentrated on flat areas rich in preys (in Catalonia the ‘Lleida’ steppes, ‘Alt Camp’ plains, ‘Empordà’ plain, etc.). These areas are of great value to the species, since the young individuals depend on them to survive and to get being adults and then keeping the adult population. Lately, non-adult Bonelli’s Eagles have been seen regularly during short periods in ‘Gallecs’, and some of them were afterwards recruited in the mountain ranges territories when adults. In this sense, ‘Gallecs’ would be a key site for the species.

View of the countryside area called 'Gallecs'
The distribution power line that crossed 'Gallecs'
is not dangerours for the birds anymore

Infrastructures such as distribution power lines (that might cause the death of birds by electrocution) located in an area of high ecological value might be a death trap to many bird species. For this reason, the Biology Conservation Group of the University of Barcelona carried out several studies in order to detect the pylons where birds were mainly electrocuted and to give technical solutions to correct dangerous pylons. Thanks to this, hundreds of dangerous pylons have been corrected mainly in the Pre-Litoral mountain range of ‘El Vallès’. The dismantling of dangerous power lines, most of them obsolete, is an important conservation tool. This autumn, the electricity company Endesa, with help of the Consortium of ‘Gallecs’, has began the total dismantling of some power lines that cross the area, which were previously buried. With the help of local naturalists and the Consortium of ‘Gallecs’, some electricity pylons will also be identified and kept, without carrying electricity, in order to allow raptors to use them as safe hunting lookouts or as places to rest.

We are so glad for this action in favour of the biodiversity of this natural area, and we encourage electrical companies, authorities, associations and naturalists to keep on working in this direction.