High-rise build­ings a big risk to birds

The NGT or­der is silent on the im­pli­ca­tions of hav­ing tall struc­tures near a bird sanc­tu­ary. Death by col­li­sion with glass is be­lieved to be the fore­most cause of death among birds

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Van­dana Ram­nani

If height re­stric­tions are in place around air­ports for airc raft safety, don’t bird sanc­tu­ar­ies need pro­tec­tion from noise and wa­ter pol­lu­tion and high-rise build­ings?

Ac­cord­ing to en­vi­ron­ment sci­en­tists, high-rise build­ings near bird sanc­tu­ar­ies are a big risk to the birds. Death caused by col­li­sion with glass is be­lieved to be one of the fore­most an­thro­pogenic (hu­man-caused) causes of bird deaths.

The Na­tional Green Tri­bunal (NGT) or­der on the Okhla Bird Sanc­tu­ary (OBS) does not get into the im­pli­ca­tions of build­ing high-rises near bird sanc­tu­ar­ies be­yond re­peat­ing what the pe­ti­tioner, Amit Ku­mar, had stated. This has been left pre­sum­ably to the wis­dom of the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment and Forests (MoEF). One is­sue here is whether the high-rise build­ings will in­ter­fere with the nav­i­ga­tion of birds fly­ing in and out of the sanc­tu­ary. The sec­ond is­sue is whether such struc­tures will lead to the sanc­tu­ary be­com­ing less hos­pitable for the birds - ob­struct­ing their view, flight path, and cre­at­ing dis­trac­tions be­cause of lights, says Chetan Agar­wal, an en­vi­ron­ment an­a­lyst.

There are some bird species within the sanc­tu­ary that are per­haps more sen­si­tive than oth­ers and pre­fer peace and quiet, while other species like pi­geons and crows are well adapted to cities. Dr Mon­al­isa Sen, a sci­en­tist work­ing on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, says that mi­gra­tory birds live in forests, meadows or wet­lands, and do not un­der­stand the con­cept of glass.

To a mi­gra­tory bird, glass is an in­vis­i­ble and dan­ger­ous ob­sta­cle. They see the land­scape re­flected in win­dows and mir­rored build­ing ex­te­ri­ors and mis­take the re­flec­tion for shel­ter. Of­ten, see­ing through the glass, the birds spot pot­ted plants or trees in­side the build­ing. Where win­dows meet at the cor­ners, or line up with each other front and back (ie glass walk­ways, solariums, green­houses), birds per­ceive a clear pas­sage and try to fly through to the trees they see on the other side; and suf­fer in­juries, she says.

HT FILE PHOTO

Birds need an undis­turbed habi­tat: A tall build­ing near a pro­tected zone such as this Okhla Bird Sanc­tu­ary can ob­struct their fly­ing path and pre­vent flow of rain wa­ter

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