CAP DOM - Conserving French overseas threatened bird species and their habitats using demonstrative conservation tools.

LIFE09 NAT/FR/000582

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Contact details:

Contact person: Anne-France TOUVERON
Tel: +33 6 34125064
Email: anne-france.touveron@lpo.fr

Project description:


Though still accounting for around 80% of French biodiversity, the overseas departments (DOMs) have significantly declined in recent years. Biodiversity in these areas is threatened by invasive species, urbanisation and economic activities, as well as a lack of appropriate conservation tools. The Birds and Habitats Directives do not apply in these DOMs and biodiversity protection is not integrated into policies such as agriculture, fishing or trade policies. Because of their remote geographical location, research developments and technical innovations in nature conservation have tended to overlook these regions. Furthermore, conservation management tools that have been developed for the European continent are not necessarily suitable because of the specificities of the local natural and socio-economic contexts.


The objective of this LIFE Biodiversity project was to contribute to stopping biodiversity loss in three DOMs (Reunion, Martinique and French Guiana), by testing demonstrative and innovative conservation management tools for the protection of threatened bird species and their habitats, and by disseminating the results to other EU overseas territories.


The CAP DOM project met the challenge of finding a constructive and efficient way for beneficiaries located on three different continents to work together to produce ‘DOM-tailored’ conservation tools. Due to the project, the threats, habitats and behaviour of five targeted bird species are now better understood, making it possible to develop more targeted and precise conservation measures. The conservation status of these birds has improved as a result.

In Reunion, the project developed a cost effective methodology to reduce and control the presence of rats on an area of more than 800 hectares. By the end of the project, the rat population had been cleared from 250 ha. Cost-effective methods to control their reappearance in the short and long term were also developed. For example, the rat disinfestation costs, which were €160/ha before the project, have been reduced to €73/ha. The Reunion cuckoo shrike (Coracina newtoni) population has increased by more than 50% -- from 27 to 42 pairs. This result is slightly less than the targeted 50 pairs, but monitoring shows that the population is continuing to steadily increase. Moreover, there is a strong will to pursue rat control, which should benefit the population.

Also in the DOM, a patrol was set up to collect injured or poisoned Reunion harriers (Circus maillardi) It is mainly run by volunteers (more than 70). The local population is aware of the value and fragility of this bird, and has been informed on how to react when finding an injured or sick individual. The number of individuals brought to the nursing centre alive that could be later released has thus increased steadily. Over the project, 26 out of the 41 living birds collected were released back into the wild (63 % of the birds), which is above the targeted percentage of 30%.

In Martinique, 15 ‘hot spots’ of the white-breasted thrasher (Ramphocinclus brachyurus) were identified as well as two potential reintroduction sites. This led to closure or redesign of footpaths to reduce disturbance to the birds. Different methods to fight against predation were also tested.

In French Guiana, nesting of cock-of-the-rocks (Rupicola rupicola) on an intensely visited breeding site (Montagne de Kaw) has been increased thanks to adapted conservation measures. The creation of a viewing trail, which avoids disturbing the nest sites, also benefited the species. Furthermore, some logging roads were closed. A ‘best practice guide’ was published in French/English and French/Spanish for stakeholders and decision makers, in order to enable them to take into account cock-of the rock in development projects.

A conservation plan based on the project’s findings was also published in French, English and Spanish for the Agami heron (Agamia agami), which was poorly know before the project started. It was drafted in collaboration with neighbouring countries in order to facilitate future conservation measures of this species. The movements of eight individuals were traced thanks to satellite transmitters, enabling researchers to obtain first indications on feeding grounds and dispersion areas outside the nesting season.

Furthermore, the poorly known and valued savannah in the DOM was studied (around 90 areas in total), leading to the identification of 21 different savannah habitats and a map of their location. The effects of slash-and-burn techniques were also analysed and techniques were developed to fight against the invasive Acacia mangium. The result was a savannah development plan and an educational savannah trail.

The LIFE project also developed a methodology to identify priority sites in terms of biodiversity in overseas territories and adapted and implemented the French Common Bird Survey (Suivi Temporel Des Oiseaux Communs – STOC) to DOMs. A database, VISIONATURE, was developed in each of the three DOMs of the project. The number of observers and collected data has been increasing steadily.

The project carried out an extensive communication and dissemination campaign, producing posters, exhibitions and films (62 in total). All publications and films are available on the project’s website.

One of the enduring outcomes project was the development of strong ties and collaboration with local players and volunteers, dues to its participative approach. The project demonstrated that despite significant geographic distances it was possible to set up a dynamic and functional DOM conservation network, which can be extended to other DOMs. It also showed the importance of bringing to the attention of local and national policy-makers the value and fragility of biodiversity in the French DOMs.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Conservation Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Birds


endangered species‚  nature conservation

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Convention on Biological Diversity - CBD (29.12.1993)
  • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 ...

Target Habitat types

  • 02 - Specific (i.e.for technical reasons or specific issue)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description Ligue pour la protection des Oiseaux (LPO) is the French NGO that has been officially representing Birdlife International in France since 1995. It has some 46 000 members.
Partners Association Ornithologique de Martinique (AOMA), France Société d'Etudes Ornithologiques de La Réunion (SEFOR), France Groupement d'Etudes et de Protection des Oiseaux de Guyane (GEPOG), France Parc National de La Réunion, France


Project reference LIFE09 NAT/FR/000582
Duration 15-SEP-2010 to 20-SEP -2015
Total budget 2,251,500.00 €
EU contribution 1,111,650.00 €
Project location Martinique(France) Guyane(France) Réunion(France)


Read more:

Leaflet "Life + Cap Dom - 2010/2015 conservation de l'avif ...
Project web site Project's website
Project web site - 2 Project's Facebook page
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan After-LIFE Conservation Plan
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Proceedings "La régulation des rats à large échelle: retours d ...
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report
Publication: Technical report "Document de synthèse de l’action A3 « Coq-de-roch ...
Video link "LIFE+ CAP DOM: Oiseaux d'outre-mer, notre nature: 5 ans d'actions pour la biodiversité d'outre-mer" [FR-EN - 29'51]
Video link "Inauguration du Life+ CapDOM" (5')


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