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LIFE MAMMAQ - Conservation of the European Mink and associated community interest species and habitats of the Charente River Basin

LIFE16 NAT/FR/000872


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Contact details:

Contact person: Eric BRUGEL
Tel: 330546821234
Email: lpo@lpo.fr



Project description:

Background

The European mink (Mustela lutreola) is one of the most endangered mammal species in Europe. In France, it is among the three most endangered mammals. Globally considered as critically endangered by the IUCN in 2011, it is listed as a priority for conservation in Annex II of the Habitats Directive. It acts as an umbrella species – by preserving its habitat, many other species and habitats benefit from the same conservation actions. The European mink’s distribution area has shrunk by half in the last twenty years. Recent observations have shown that two French departments (Charente and Charente-Maritime) now form the only remaining stronghold of this species, in an area most likely without an active population of the invasive American mink (Neovison vison).


Objectives

LIFE MAMMAQ aims at maintaining or increasing the European mink’s population in one of the species’ last stronghold area, by reducing the causes of its mortality, increasing the area of favourable habitats, improving ecological corridors and securing land tenures. The project will address the threat from invasive American mink, by disrupting their attempts to settle in the Charente river basin, and by implementing a prevention plan concerning an American mink farm in Charente. The project actions will be implemented concomitantly with the application of the third European mink national species action Plan. LIFE MAMMAQ also aims to improve knowledge about the mammal’s sensitive period of reproduction and its function in ecosystems.

Expected results: As European mink is nocturnal, very secretive and its tracts and signs are difficult to assess, the project will not take a numerical approach to evaluating its expected results. However, a precise map of the European mink in the Charente river basin is expected. Radio tracking surveys and new detection technology will contribute to a better understanding of the types of habitats used during feeding and breeding activities. It will also be possible to survey the behaviour of the European mink in natural and artificial landscapes, and then to map the river basin according to mink habitats to optimise the conservation strategy. Another expected result is the establishment of a new standardised survey technique to assess European mink presence, which could be replicated elsewhere in Europe.

Expected improvement in European mink habitats are the following:

  • 30 ha purchased in high ecological value areas of special interest for the European mink;
  • 40 small sanctuary areas created;
  • 25 ha of riparian forest enhanced or planted and 20 ha of tall riparian meadows restored;
  • 15 wildlife crossings made under dangerous bridges (to complement the 40 that are planned as a compensatory measure for the LGV-Sud Europe Atlantique, a high-speed railway between Tours and Bordeaux); and
  • 10 ponds dug and 5 fish spawning grounds restored.

At the same time, measures to eliminate American mink and other invasive alien species are expected to keep the area free of these competing species. Finally, the project will promote the European mink as a flagship species in local management policies, by creating 10 management plans for local authorities and introducing management guidelines in the river Charente management plan and in the French regional ecological continuity strategy.


Results


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Environmental issues addressed:

Target species

 Mustela lutreola     


Natura 2000 sites

SPA FR5410013 ANSE DE FOURAS, BAIE D'YVES, MARAIS DE ROCHEFORT
SPA FR5412006 Vallée de la Charente en amont d'Angoulêmes
SCI FR5400429 MARAIS DE ROCHEFORT
SCI FR5400430 Vallée de la Charente (basse vallée)
SCI FR5400472 Moyenne vallée de la Charente et Seugnes et Coran
SCI FR5400473 Vallée de l'Antenne
SPA FR5412025 Estuaire et basse vallée de la Charente
SCI FR5400417 Vallée du Né et ses principaux affluents
SCI FR5402009 Vallée de la Charente entre Angoulème et Cognac et ses principaux affluents (SOLOIRE, BOEME, ECHELLE)


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Beneficiaries:

Coordinator LPO (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux)
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description BirdLife partner, LPO (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux), works to protect birds and wildlife in France, and to stop the decline in biodiversity and ecosystems, by updating knowledge, conducting conservation actions, especially for endangered species, and raising awareness amongst the public to gain their support. LPO manages more than 20 000 ha of natural habitats and is involved in a dozen Natura 2000 ‘documents of objectives’.
Partners Conseil départemental de Charente-Maritime, France Groupe de Recherche et d'Etude pour la Gestion de l'Environnement, France

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Project reference LIFE16 NAT/FR/000872
Duration 01-SEP-2017 to 30-NOV -2022
Total budget 3,954,771.00 €
EU contribution 2,918,688.00 €
Project location Poitou-Charentes(France)

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