Arribes del Duero - Performances of improvement of the environment on behalf of the Eagle Perdicera (Hieraëtus fasciatus) and of the Black Stork, as well as the continuation of inmature in The Arribes del Duero

LIFE97 NAT/E/004188

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Rodrigues ELENA HERNANDEZ
Tel: 34 983 411968
Fax: 34 982 411999

Project description:


The Arribes del Duero are the greatest complex of river canyons in the Iberian Peninsula. Located along the central axis constituted by the Duero river in the west of Spain, they form a natural frontier between it and Portugal over nearly 100 kilometres in the provinces of Salamanca and Zamora. The Spanish part has been designated SPA and contains two flagship species - Bonelli's eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus) and Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) - which, under the Birds Directive, require special conservation measures.

These two species are very sensitive to disturbance and to the degeneration of their habitat. In the project area they find a refuge where it is possible to keep the threats which have made their populations dwindle elsewhere in the EU, under control. Bonelli's eagle is exposed to hunting pressure, to nest disturbance and to collisions with electric power lines. The Black Stork suffers from the disturbance caused by water sports near the cliffs where it nests and it is also vulnerable on account of the small number of individuals which return each year from Africa, where the species winters.


This LIFE project sought to improve habitat conditions to ensure the two species' breeding success. Monitoring, surveillance and control activities were planned at the nesting sites. It was also foreseen to boost rabbit and pigeon populations - the eagle's prey species - and to dig pools so that the Black Stork could forage there for amphibians and small fish.

An information campaign was planned including the dissemination of information material and the organisation of public meetings with the inhabitants of the district. The purpose of these meetings was to raise awareness on the importance of conserving these two species and their links with the maintenance of certain traditional activities.


The project objectives were partially achieved. Twenty-seven dovecotes and two warrens were set up to improve Bonelli’s eagle feeding resources. This enabled the Bonelli’s eagle population to remain stable. Indeed, maintaining the same number of pairs (19) throughout the whole project period can be considered a successful result, in particular if bearing in mind the general decrease observed for the species population in the rest of its distribution range.

Although the lack of feeding resources -wild rabbit being the main prey- is one of the main problems for Bonelli’s eagle and was addressed in the project, warren construction was not fully successful. With the improvement of the methodology used, the beneficiary will probably boost the rabbit population in the future, but this threat still existed at the end of the project. The new colonies of wild pigeons expected after the restoration of old traditional dovecotes existing in the area did not merge at the end of the project either. The beneficiary was aware that infection by Trichomonas disease, frequent among domestic pigeons, could become a new threat for Bonelli’s eagle. In fact, according to scientific reports, this is an important risk factor that could cause a great decline in Bonelli’s eagle productivity. The beneficiary committed to undertake close monitoring of the health of the domestic dovecote population.

The radio-tracking and satellite monitoring of Bonelli’s eagle were the most innovative actions, taking into account the scarcity of previous experience on this issue. They made it possible to find out more about winter dispersal movements even though it was carried out only for a short time, due to technical problems. However, the beneficiary acquired the necessary skills and was ready to continue this monitoring after the project end.

The study to locate dangerous power lines within the SPA, which involved habitat improvement, is also worth pointing out.

The feeding habitat for black stork was also addressed by means of the construction of a number of ponds and fish restocking. However, no sufficient data were provided on black stork population trends in the SPA at the end of the project, and therefore it was not possible to assess properly the benefit derived from the number of ponds created and fish restocking done.

The awareness-raising activities targeted scholars and local population, mainly owners of dovecotes and stakeholders. The campaign to inform on the financing of ponds and dovecotes recovery was properly designed. It included the Life logo and raised the interest of many local inhabitants. However, it has to be noted that Arribes del Duero is a highly depopulated and depressed area, with aged population. The main activities in the area are extensive cattle raising and hydroelectric energy production. The interest in maintaining traditional activities is decreasing and nature conservation is not a high priority for local people. In such a context, it is easy to understand that great difficulties exist as regards investing European funds in species’ conservation measures.

The implementation of the LIFE project can be considered as very important to consolidate the designation of the SPA as a Natural Park under regional law. The local people understood that nature conservation issues involve not only restrictions, but also funds invested in the area due to its natural values. The improved relationship between site managers and local populations promoted by the project is also noteworthy.


Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Birds


endangered species‚  population dynamics‚  protected area‚  monitoring system‚  nature conservation

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 79/409 - Conservation of wild birds (02.04.1979)

Target species

 Ciconia nigra   Hieraaetus fasciatus   

Natura 2000 sites




Coordinator Junta de Castilla y Léon, Consejeria de Medio Ambiente
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description Regional governments are responsible, among other tasks, of nature conservation planning and management in Spain.
Partners 'None'


Project reference LIFE97 NAT/E/004188
Duration 01-JAN-1998 to 31-DEC -2000
Total budget 296,053.23 €
EU contribution 222,039.92 €
Project location Castilla-León(España) Norte(Portugal) Centro(Portugal)


Read more:

Publication: Book Title: Arribes del Duero: el hogar del águila perdicera y de la cigüeña negra. Author: Vicente González, J.L. et al. (eds.) Year: 2000 Editor: Junta de Castilla y León No of pages: 190


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