Israel’s Bird King Yossi Leshem: Jordan’s Tafila Wind Farm is a “Real Problem”

yossi leshem

Jordan is pushing ahead with the largest commercial scale wind farm in the Middle East region, the Tafila Wind Farm, seemingly without care for the massive bird migration population that passes through Jordan twice a year. Green Prophet called Israel’s Bird King, bird migration specialist Prof. Yossi Leshem.

He knows of the plans and says “it’s a real problem.”

No one from the Jordan wind turbine consortia has consulted him, he says. Tomorrow, Monday, he will be going to a big conference in Israel to bring the message to Israel’s future wind turbine developers as well, he tells us.

Tafila’s $280 million wind farm being built on the Great Valley Rift is being constructed by the Jordan Wind Project Company (JWPC) which will run the development of the wind farm. The JWPC is a co-development between the companies InfraMed (50 percent), Masdar (31 percent) and EP Global Energy (19 percent).

Leshem, who has built radar systems to prevent bird collisions with army jets tells Green Prophet: “Why is this a problem? Because the wind turbines will affect migration and this can cause real damage to all these birds.”

Birds of prey, raptors and storks, he says are at particular risk.

He points to the wind turbines on Gibraltar: as the birds migrate from Spain to Morocco thousands of griffin vultures are killed at the site of the wind turbines.

The potential effects of wind turbines on bird flight patterns at the Jordanian site were carried out by the JWPC, the group financing it. This report says such commercially-funded studies are typical.

Leshem is one of the region’s most noted bird migratory researchers. No one from Jordan contacted him about any possible adverse effects the farm will have on the birds.

“The thing is that we are always for alternative energy. But the environment that is good for wind is also good for raptors, storks, and pelicans,” he tells Green Prophet.

The only solution that Leshem sees that’s in sight is a radar system for monitoring migration patterns. In Jordan and Israel too, he says: “They need radar for wherever they have such wind farms. When the radar picks up migrating birds they can turn the turbines off.

“I am sure that they are not installing radar in Jordan. The same in israel,” says Leshem, busying for a conference in Israel about this issue tomorrow. 

As for the group in Jordan building the turbines: “no one has talked with me about it. You see the birds don’t belong to Jordan or Israel. They are coming from Asia and Europe and on a big scale.”

Will the next Middle East war be over birds? We hope that energy infrastructure builders, and birders can find a way to produce energy and protect the birds.

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6 thoughts on “Israel’s Bird King Yossi Leshem: Jordan’s Tafila Wind Farm is a “Real Problem””

  1. Johnnymorales says:

    Israel has no business criticizing this effort if it can’t put forward an affordable alternative that doesn’t turn Jordan into a “border province” where all decisions are made in Jerusalem.

    The fact is Jordan has few alternatives. It has no conventional oil resources. Israel will not green light nuclear. Solar is still to expensive on the scale cash strapped Jordan needs.

    It is this sort of idiotic environmentalism that turns people against preserving anything and results in failure.

    When the costs of preservation, environmentalism that benefits a variety of groups is forced on the shoulders on 1 group among them failure is all but certain.

    1. The Israeli birding researchers are rooting for Jordan’s prosperity. Because prosperous societies tend to be more kind to animal welfare. If you look to the US, renewable energy projects gets shelved over turtles, yes simple turtles. We need to think about the environment, and large birds of prey before our own immediate needs Johnny or nature will be doomed. Birds are important for many reasons.

    2. And, Israeli birders, if you read the article, also criticize the Israeli wind industry.

    3. Jordan needs to focus on the sun. This is Jordan’s best natural resource.

  2. We can help protect jordan’s birds in other ways, at least:

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