With the increase of goals to tackle the climate crisis, the energy industry is logically looking for new areas to install wind farms. Similar to Germany, the energy companies in France are installing more and more wind farms in forests – a clear red line for nature conservationists.
Despite a negative opinion of the Superior council of nature protection in Brittany, the local prefect gave his green light for the installation of wind farms in the second biggest forest of the region. From February 2023 on, the company Boralex is producing electricity using 17 wind farms installed in the forest of Lanouée.
A mortality survey conducted between the 12th of June and the 25th of September 2023 led to a morbid record of 48 bat cadavers [1]. This number is of course an underestimate because other dead individuals were likely not found in vegetation or carried away by predators. Three species would be impacted: the common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus, the Nathusius Pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii and the common serotine bat Eptesicus serotinus. After only a few months of use, this park is already the second most impactful for bats in the region in terms of cumulated bat victims. These results are especially worrying considering that the wind farms are already curtailed at night based on meteorological conditions.
Two local associations involved in nature conservation – the Groupe Mammalogique Breton and Bretagne Vivante are asking for two simple but clear measures:
– a complete stop of wind production at night for this very impactful forest park
– a complete stop of the development of wind parks in French forests.
As nature conservationists, we support climate goals including the deployment of renewable energy. However, it is our responsibility that bat conservation is also considered and taken into account. This is especially important for bats considering their low reproduction rate and the many other conservation threats affecting them.

Yann Gager

[1] https://gmb.bzh/actualite/mortalite-massive-de-chauves-souris-sous-le-parc-eolien-de-la-foret-de-lanouee-56/

Killed Nathusius pipistrelle below wind turbine (foto: M. Fritze)
Wind farms in forests: a worrying story from France