Windfarms and Sustainable Development Goals: optimal approach for fragmentation and land use change


2020 - 2021


BCL-Biodiversity Conservation Lab



Project team

Dr. Vassiliki Kati. Coordinator 

Dr. Christina Kassara, biologist 

Lydia Tampouratzi, rural & surveying Engineer

Dimitris Gotsis, product & system design Engineer

Dr. Olga Tzortzakaki, biologist

Dr. Dimitris Vassilakis, forester 

Dr. Sylvia Zakkak, biologist

Maria Petridou, agronomist, PhD student (BCL/UOI) 

Lavrentis Sidiropoulos, environmentalist, PhD student (BCL/UOI)

Maria Psaralexi, biologist, PhD student (AUTH) 

Nikos Βukas, biologist (MSc) (BCL/UOI)

Tonia Galani, biologist, MSc student (BCL/UOI)

External collaborators

Dr. Zoi Vrontisi, engineer

Dr. Aris Moustakas, engineer

*Project funded under contract with the NCESD (National Centre for the Environment and Sustainable Development) – current N.E.C.C.A.

The convergence of climate and biodiversity policies,
in the field of windfarm development.


Spatial data analysis


Sustainable spatial planning & SDGs


Land take and windfarms


RES & SDGs (Renewable Energy Resources & Sustainable Development Goals)


Result dissemination





Date of release

CC use


Spatial database

Spatial database with raw data and results of spatial analysis





Windfarms & SDGs

Report on the spatial planning of windfarms in the frame of SDGs

Report (pdf)




Windfarms & land take

Report assessing windfarms on the basis of land take indicator

Report (pdf)




Policy brief

Electronic leaflet as policy brief for windfarms & SDGs

Leaflet (pdf)










Congress presentation (national)





The database is linked to the paper . The database consists of five geospatial layers: (a) The investment zone (41.4% of Greek land): it includes the three most fragmented zones (very high, high and medium) according to the Landscape Fragmentation Indicator (2015), of the territory outside the terrestrial part of the Natura 2000. (b) The windfarm-free zone (58.6% of Greek land): it includes the terrestrial part of the Natura 2000 network and the two least fragmented zones (very low and low) outside the network. (c) Windfarm sites (2020): 260 applications of operating windfarms and 1578 applications of windfarms in other permission stages, both onshore and offshore. An application may consist of multiple polygons (1880 polygons in total). (d) The two versions of the Natura 2000 network. All the above five spatial databases are provided as shapefiles (GIS) and as kml files (Google Earth). Explanatory notes are also provided for reading the files and understanding field codification.


Abstract: Wind energy is the leading renewable technology towards achieving climate goals, yet biodiversity trade-offs via land take are emerging. Thus, we are facing the paradox of impacting on biodiversity to combat climate change. We suggest a novel method of spatial planning that enhances windfarm sustainability: investments are prioritized in the most fragmented zones that lie outside the Natura 2000 network of protected areas. We showcase it in Greece, a biodiversity hotspot with a strong climate policy and land conflict between conservation and wind energy schemes. The analysis indicates that the suggested investment zone supports wind harnessing 1.5 times higher than the 2030 national goal, having only marginally lower (4%) wind speed. It performs well for the conservation of the annexed habitats and species of the two Nature Directives and it greatly overlaps with the Important Bird Areas (93%) and the roadless areas (80%) of Greece. It also greatly overlaps (82%–91%) with the exclusion zones suggested according to three sensitivity maps for bird conservation. Since land use change triggers biodiversity decline, we underline the necessity of such approaches for meeting both climate and biodiversity goals and call for a greater environmental policy convergence towards biodiversity conservation and no net land take.

Result dissemination

Greek lecture

Προσκεκλημένη ομιλία σε τηλεδιάσκεψη που διοργανώθηκε στις 10/2/2021 από το Ανοικτό Πανεπιστήμιο Κύπρου στο πλαίσιο του Μεταπτυχιακού Προγράμματος “Διαχείριση και Προστασία Περιβάλλοντος”. Ομιλήτρια. Β. Κατή. Τίτλος διάλεξης: To τρίπτυχο βιοποικιλότητα-δρόμοι-αιολικά στο πλαίσιο των Στόχων Βιώσιμης Ανάπτυξης: η Ελληνική περίπτωση”. Διάλεξη με επίκεντρο τέσσερις θεματικές ενότητες: Α. Βιοποικιλότητα & κλιματική αλλαγή: οι προκλήσεις του 21ου αιώνα. Β. Δρόμοι: η “επιτομή” της ανθρωπογενούς παρέμβασης στη φύση. Γ. Αιολικά πάρκα: επιτακτική ανάγκη για κατάλληλη χωροθέτηση. Δ. Σύνδεση της έρευνας με τη διεθνή πολιτική σκηνή. Προσκεκλημένη διάλεξη στο Μεταπτυχιακό Πρόγραμμα “Διαχείριση και Προστασία Περιβάλλοντος” του Ανοικτού Πανεπιστημίου Κύπρου

International lecture

Description: Invited lecture organized in the frame of a webinar organized by the Policy Committee of the European Section of the Society for Conservation Biology in 26/1/2021. Two recent papers published for Greece were used to illustrate the webinar topics ( and 

The goal of the webinar was : (A) to  present the road sprawl and subsequent fragmentation problem at global and European scale, as roadless areas conservation is a long-term initiative of PC SCB-Europe. (B) to present the topical nexus of biodiversity loss and land use change stemming from Renewable Energy Sources, such as windfarm infrastructures, rapidly developing in the EU under the European Green Deal. (C) To present the relevant legislative and policy frame at global and EU scale and discuss the perspectives of integrating the webinar messages into the EU policy and legal frame. The webinar was not open to the public, but under invitation of key EU experts and policymakers. The two main messages of the webinar were: Message 1: Restrain road sprawl and land take in natural ecosystems in legally binding terms. Message 2: Better integrate biodiversity in climate policies: prioritize RES in least ecologically valuable zones. The following points were presented as questions/ points to consider for discussion by scientists and policymakers. 

  • Roadless areas should be integrated in the forthcoming European guideline as a criterion to set up ecological corridors expanding the network of protected areas (30% target), so as to increase the coherence of Natura 2000 and as a criterion to define and designating the strictly protected zones (10% target). [Biodiversity Strategy: EU Nature protection: key commitments by 2030]
  • Roadless areas should be included in the legally binding targets of ecosystem restoration in the forthcoming regulation, as It is equally important to actively restore degraded and carbon-rich ecosystems (active restoration) and to proactively maintain intact ecosystems (proactive restoration) for no need to restore in the future (cost –effective). Proactive restoration could be more beneficial for countries with large tracks of nature remained, mostly in Scandinavia, eastern Europe and parts of the Mediterranean. Member States should have the liberty to take restoration actions according to their specific needs, including road removal. [Biodiversity Strategy: EU Nature restoration plan: key commitments by 2030]
  • The  “no net land take by 2050” milestone should be legally binding in the frame of Art. 10 92/43/EEC and the Landscape Convention should be reinforced for actual landscape protection, management and planning.
  • Minimum land take should be integrated in the forthcoming regulation review of land use, land use change and forestry and road sprawl monitoring and roadless areas conservation should be considered in the 8th Environment Action Programme
  • SEAs, EIAs, AAs, or subsidizing regulations could be better implemented to reduce the impact of land-consuming projects
  • Landscape Fragmentation Indicator (LFI) and Roadless Fragmentation Indicator (RFI) could serve as new tools for monitoring and policy-making in the above frame. 
  • The EU could undertake an initiative of suggesting roadless areas as a distinct target in post-Aichi biodiversity strategy targets. 

Electronic leaflet

Electronic brochure (pdf) and poster (jpeg) summarizing how the climate targets for clean energy in Greece can be achieved from the operation of wind farms, without substantial damage to biodiversity, in the context of European environmental policy and the Sustainable Development Goals. What is the European Green Deal? What is the Greek energy and climate policy? What is the value of Greece in terms of its biodiversity? Are wind farms damaging biodiversity and when? What is the international experience on this issue? What does new research in Greece suggest for the proper sitting of wind farms with little damage to biodiversity? The answers in the form of a three-page leaflet and poster (two files openly available).

Policy brief

Kati V. & Kassara C (2021). Proposal for planting onshore windfarms in Greece for clean energy without significant effects on biodiversity. Biodiversity Conservation Lab. University of Ioannina. 12 pages. [in Greek]

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