Overarching criteria for assessing wildlife mortality in the context of projects and interferences

The "Overarching Criteria for the Assessment of Wildlife Mortality in the Context of Projects and Interventions" have been published in a new updated and expanded 4th version (Bernotat & Dierschke 2021). The MRI methodology (Mortality Risk Index) has been continuously developed, validated and fine-tuned over the past five years since the last version (2016). This also resulted in various technical articles and publications, the most important contents of which are now brought together again here in the central work on the MRI methodology.

Bernotat, D. & V. Dierschke (2021): Übergeordnete Kriterien zur Bewertung der Mortalität wildlebender Tiere im Rahmen von Projekten und Eingriffen. 4. Fassung

With regard to the species spectrum processed, the Mortality Risk Index (MRI) was now developed for all species of the Habitats Directive occurring in Germany.

With regard to the classification of the species-specific collision risk at the different types of projects, further national and European publications on dead finds and collision risk were evaluated and the collision risk for individual species was adjusted to the new current state of knowledge.

The topic of mortality risk to birds at offshore wind farms was developed as a fundamentally new module (cf. Chap. 13 and Working Guideline II.4). The disturbance-related mortality risk of species in relation to breeding losses was added as a further topic (cf. Chap. 15 or Working Guide II.6).

In this new edition, suggestions from planning practice were taken up to structure the contents in a way that makes them easier to use. Therefore, the MRI-reference volumes have been divided into three main parts.

Part I "Legal and methodical
In Chapter 2, the references to the various legal bases and assessment instruments are presented in depth and current national and European case law is taken into account. The focus is on the prohibition of killing under species protection law in accordance with Article 44 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act (BNatSchG) and the Habitats Directive impact assessment in accordance with Article 34 of the BNatSchG, but references are also made to other national and European assessment instruments. In addition, it is explained in detail to what extent the developed MRI methodology takes up the legal and technical requirements and operationalises them for planning practice.

Chapter 3 summarises the basic principles for deriving the general mortality risk (MGI) of species in a single chapter.

Chapter 4 explains how the project-type-specific mortality risk of species is derived and how this project-type-specific mortality risk index (pMRI) can be methodically taken into account in assessments.

In Chapter 5, concrete cases of application are explained for the parameters of the constellation-specific risk and it is made clear how these are to be taken into account in the assessment procedure in individual cases. For this purpose, information is given on various spatial and project-related parameters and a methodological approach operationalising the criteria is proposed for possible application. This includes, on the one hand, concretisation of the conflict potential of projects, the affected areas and occurrences of species at risk of collision, but also possible avoidance and mitigation measures. In addition, explanations are given on how, in concrete cases, further studies such as habitat potential analyses or land use analyses can be integrated into the methodology in addition to distance considerations.

Chapter 6 uses an example to illustrate the possibilities of staged assessment using the MRI methodology at different planning levels and with different data.

In Chapter 7, a further assessment approach is presented, showing how assessment decisions can be made in individual cases based on the general mortality risk of species.

The basic part is concluded in chapter 8 with a summary of the development and coordination of the MRI methodology. In view of the increasing establishment of the MRI methodology as a technical standard in science, practice and jurisprudence, the development and coordination process over many years was summarised.

In Part II "Working aids", eight independent application-related working aids on project types and species groups are now published in the form of practical guides. Here, the project-related chapters on mortality assessment and constellation-specific risk assessment have been combined. In addition, information is provided on which chapters from the basic part should be considered in addition, if necessary.

This provides specific project-related information on the assessment of mortality risk using the MRI methodology in the context of planning and assessment. This is explained by practical examples. Last but not least, this also contributes to the sub-legislative benchmarking required by the Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG, decision of 23.10.2018, Ref. 1 BvR 2523/13, BVerfGE 149, 407-421).

For the topic of wind turbines and birds, the working aids II.3 and II.4 are particularly relevant, whereby with regard to the questions on the synthesis of distance considerations, HPAs and RNAs, Chapter 5.3 in the basic part is also new and should be considered in this respect. This also applies to the topics of preloading and accumulation (Chapter 5.1), as only here are these issues explained somewhat more comprehensively.

Part III "Appendices" comprises the numerous appendices, in particular on the scientific data and bases for deriving the Population Biological Sensitivity Index (PSI), the Nature Conservation Value Index (NWI) and the resulting Mortality Risk Index (MRI) for the individual species of the various animal species groups

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I Rechtliche und methodische Grundlagen

II.1 Arbeitshilfe zur Bewertung der Kollisionsgefährdung von Vögeln an Freileitungen

II.2 Arbeitshilfe zur Bewertung der Kollisionsgefährdung von Vögeln an Straßen

II.3 Arbeitshilfe zur Bewertung der Kollisionsgefährdung von Vögeln an Windenergieanlagen (an Land)

II.4 Arbeitshilfe zur Bewertung der Kollisionsgefährdung von Vögeln an Offshore-Windparks

II.5 Arbeitshilfe zur Bewertung der Mortalitätsgefährdung von Vögeln an Freileitungen durch Stromtod

II.6 Arbeitshilfe zur Bewertung störungsbedingter Brutausfälle bei Vögeln am Beispiel baubedingter Störwirkungen

II.7 Arbeitshilfe zur Bewertung der Kollisionsgefährdung von Fledermäusen an Straßen

II.8 Arbeitshilfe zur Bewertung der Kollisionsgefährdung von Fledermäusen an Windenergieanlagen

III: Anhänge zum Grundlagenteil