A sustainable approach to minimising the risk of bird strikes



This week’s opening of the Safe Return photography exhibition in the passenger terminal of Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport marks the conclusion of a photography contest that began in the spring and that was open to bird lovers and plane spotters. With the exhibition, Aerodrom Ljubljana would like to generate awareness of its sustainable approach to reducing risks associated with bird strikes. This approach does not involve the physical destruction of birds. The Safe Return promotional campaign was carried out in cooperation with the Foundation Society of Knowledge and Values of Nature.

To ensure the safe return of both planes and birds, their cohabitation on the grounds of the airport must be closely monitored at all times. Birds present a problem for air traffic, and collisions between birds and planes, or bird strikes, pose a potential danger for all involved. Seen from a different, ecological, perspective, the presence of planes is a severe incursion into the birds’ natural habitat. 

Aerodrom Ljubljana, the company that manages Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, constantly monitors and prevents the presence of birds on the runways and within the airport perimeter. Birds are removed using a new, innovative approach. The company has teamed up with the Foundation Society of Knowledge and Values of Nature and has broadened its efforts to address these problems in accordance with a comprehensive understanding of nature and to preserve biodiversity.

Contest Safe return, 2nd place: KRAGULJ – Matej Vranič


Specialised scientists and environmental experts are our valued partners in these efforts. Science possesses an enormous amount of information on birds, and a large number of people actively watch and study birds. In fact, birds are the most studied group of animals. An approach that focuses on the ecosystem takes account of all factors in the environment which have an impact on the appearance and cohabitation of particular species.We at Aerodrom Ljubljana understand that a “green” approach is the only successful, long-term solution to reducing bird-strike risks. This is a huge leap forward in terms of our understanding and operations.In 2012, we began conducting a long-term ecological study to ascertain the state of local faunal populations and to monitor the effectiveness of measures taken.  This study revealed that the common buzzard, common kestrel and hooded crow species pose the greatest risk of bird strikes. The large numbers of these species are for the most part the result of a combination of grassy fields with low-lying vegetation and a relatively rich variety of easily available food sources. The researchers who carried out the study proposed several trial measures aimed at passively reducing the numbers of the problematic bird species, reducing the quality of the habitat for the birds and passive deterrence.Birds are not removed by shooting, and instead we search for and implement approaches that enable man and his activities to cohabitate with the area’s natural avian inhabitants. These approaches are based on sophisticated systems for monitoring and recording the presence of birds and on “soft” approaches to redirecting birds, such as altering the environment that provides them with food sources.In accordance with the recommendations of the study, more suitable technical instruments were obtained and airport staff were trained to carry out the monitoring and deterrence of freely living animals in a safe, effective, but also ethical and legally acceptable way. We combine constant monitoring of bird populations with the alteration of green areas that provide birds with food and shelter; our aim is to encourage local avian inhabitants to move elsewhere. We are aware that an understanding of avian ecology is the basis for the long-term reduction of bird-strike risks. Through a long-term ecological study, we monitor the population dynamic of the birds; the findings in turn enable us to carry out effective measures that benefit both nature and the airport.

Contest Safe return, 3rd place: SOBIVANJE NA NEBU – Andrej Tarfila

To generate further awareness of Aerodrom Ljubljana’s activities, which represent a sustainable approach to airport safety that does not involve the physical destruction of birds as a potential air traffic risk, together with our partners we decided to hold a photography contest around the theme of birds and planes. We are very pleased that the finest submissions will decorate the passenger terminal of Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport as part of a photography exhibition. They will serve to generate awareness among passengers and the general public of the airport’s integration in the ecosystem and of the importance of the sustainable management of nature in ensuring air travel safety. 




Zg. Brnik, 6 November 2014