Butor étoilé - Programme for the restoration and management of the habitats used by the Bittern in France

LIFE00 NAT/F/007269

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Thierry NICOL
Tel: +33 5.46821234
Fax: +33 5.46839586
Email: thierry.nicol@lpo.fr

Project description:


As a result of the degradation and disappearance of wetlands and, in particular, reed beds, nesting bittern (Botaurus stellaris) populations have dramatically decreased all over Europe in the last 30 years. The seven Natura 2000 network sites covered by the project are very important for the bittern. They are home to about a quarter of the French bittern nesting population and half the wintering populations. The main habitat in these sites is composed of large reed beds that are degraded to a greater or lesser degree. The low quality of the reed-bed habitat affects the reproduction success of the bittern. Degradation is mainly due to a lack of appropriate management and the intensification of human activities such as fishing, hunting and bad agricultural practices.


The project aimed to restore and manage the bittern habitats, focussing in particular on the wetlands, trough hydraulic actions and the improvement of degraded reed beds. It also aimed to increase understanding of the biology and ecology of the bittern by setting up both a scientific follow-up study and a national science programme on the species at each site. In co-operation with local stakeholders (hunters, fishers and fish farmers), the project would test management approaches that combined social and economic activities with a focus on the environmental evaluation of reed beds, particularly those reed beds for whose loss farmers had been financially compensated. The project would also launch an awareness campaign targeted at social and professional bodies, schools and the general public.


A key success of the project was that across the project area, it maintained and on some sites even increased the overall number of bitterns. It restored 210 hectares of degraded reed beds, cleaned 32 km of ditches, constructed ten new hydraulic structures and replaced or updated another eight. In addition, important information was collected on the reproductive biology (number of eggs laid, reproductive success, etc.), ecology and habitat requirements of the bittern. The project also implemented management actions across 6,500 hectares of marshes and reed beds. In addition, 20 hectares of habitat suitable for the wintering of the bittern were purchased by the LPO in the Rochefort marshes and afterwards partly classified as non-hunting territory. The project implemented bittern-specific environmental reed-bed habitat management agreements, and guidelines that were applied to 880 hectares. These measures enabled the implementation of management approaches, which combined the reed cutting and bittern presence during the breeding season by keeping at least 20% of the exploitable reed surface uncut. The objective is to pursue this management approach after LIFE with agro-environmental measures, Natura 2000 contracts or other suitable policies. The project built two observatories and a nature trail path in the Brenne and Charnier-Scamandre areas. It also produced 50 education packs and promoted bittern LIFE seminars that enabled around 300 scientists and sites managers to exchange ideas. The projected organised an awareness-raising campaign that consisted of a wide variety of activities, including the publication of information sheets and the holding of exhibitions and conferences.


Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Birds


protected area‚  public awareness campaign‚  wetland‚  land purchase‚  restoration measure

Target species

 Botaurus stellaris     

Target Habitat types

  • 01 - Unknown (site without information)

Natura 2000 sites

SPA FR2310044 Estuaire et marais de la Basse Seine
SPA FR4110060 Etang de Lachaussée et zones voisines
SPA FR9110108 Basse plaine de l'Aude
SPA FR9312001 Marais entre Crau et Grand Rhône



Coordinator Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description The Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO) is a French NGO that aims to protect birds and their associated habitats.
Partners GRIVE, France Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat, France Maison de l'Estuaire (Centre de Culture Scientifique et technique de l'Estuaire de Seine Public), France Conservatoire des Espaces Naturels Languedoc-Roussillon, France Ministère de l'Aménagement du Territoire et de l'Environnement, France Les Amis des Marais de Vigueirat, France Association de gestion de la Réserve Naturelle de Cherine, France Port autonome du Havre, France Agence de l'Eau Loire-Bretagne, France WWF France Syndicat Mixte de la Basse Vallée de l'Aude, France


Project reference LIFE00 NAT/F/007269
Duration 01-APR-2001 to 31-MAR -2006
Total budget 3,063,602.00 €
EU contribution 1,669,663.00 €
Project location Haute-Normandie(France) Centre(France) Lorraine(France) Poitou-Charentes(France) Languedoc-Roussillon(France) Provence-Alpes-Côte d' Azur(France)


Read more:

Newsletter "BUTOR Info 2" (FR) (342KB )
Newsletter "BUTOR Info 1" (FR) (411 KB)
Newsletter "BUTOR Info 7" (FR) (476 KB)
Newsletter "BUTOR Info 6" (FR) (280 KB)
Newsletter "BUTOR Info 5" (FR) (275 KB)
Newsletter "BUTOR Info 4" (FR) (291 KB)
Newsletter "BUTOR Info 3" (FR) (313 KB)
Project web site Project's website
Publication "Bilan et perspectives" (FR) (355 KB)
Publication: Case study "Ecologie et biologie du Butor étoilé" (774 KB)
Publication: Layman report Layman report (FR) (702 KB)
Publication: Layman report Layman report (EN)
Publication: Pedagogical tool "Communication et sensibilisation du public" (FR) ...
Publication: Proceedings "Résumé des communications" (FR) (975 KB)
Publication: Proceedings "Activités humaines et conservation des roselières ...
Publication: Proceedings "Quels apports pour la connaissance de l'espèce et ...
Publication: Technical report "Rapport scientifique final" (FR) (5.436 KB)


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version