Evaluation of bustard conservation best practice in Western Europe

LIFE03 NAT/CP/P/000008

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Domingos Leitão
Tel: 21 351 3220435
Email: domingos.leitao@spea.pt

Project description:


The great bustard (Otis tarda), the little bustard (Tetrax tetrax) and the houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) are considered priority species under Annex I of EU Birds Directive. These species depend on open farmland and grasslands. In Europe, the bustard populations have been facing severe decline (including local extinctions) since the mid-20th century due to farming intensification. More recently, some European financial and political tools (e.g. LIFE Nature and Pillar II of the CAP) have permitted the establishment of local projects and actions that have promoted the recovery of these species. It is important that the overall results of these actions be evaluated and to establish what the objectives are of future financial and political tools that support the conservation of bustard populations around the EU.


1. To provide knowledge to farmers and farmers’ unions from bustard areas in Portugal, Spain and France about problems and opportunities related to farming activities and bustard conservation in other regions and countries; 2. To facilitate in situ analysis of farmers’ problems and expectations concerning the conservation of bustard species, together with NGO and administration representatives in the different regions and countries; 3. To analyse bustard conservation solutions implemented, and to consider their suitability for other farming and economic activities; 4. To evaluate the performance of different solutions and projects in achieving species conservation and farming-system sustainability as short- and long-term goals; 5. Specify and summarise the rural development strategies that should be followed in regions that are important for bustard species; 6. To identify the policy changes needed in farming and rural development policies in order to maximise the conservation of bustard species; 7. To edit a reference handbook on good farming practices in bustard regions. The handbook would support the establishment of future agro-environmental schemes and bustard conservation plans and projects; 8. To invite relevant accession country representatives (from Hungary and Turkey) into this forum in order to provide them with background information about bustard conservation in Western Europe; 9. To look for international co-operation solutions for the conservation of bustard species and their habitat.


The project achieved all its objectives and actively exchanged information on knowledge and practice between organisations actively involved in bustard conservation. This enabled the evaluation of the performance in current projects and programmes. Some recent projects in Austria, Hungary and Turkey are currently benefitting from this exchange of information. This might even encourage future projects in Greece or Russia. The project brought together farmers, farmer representatives and conservationists. As the farmers are the direct managers of the land habitats of the bustards, the discussion and agreement between these stakeholders about bustard conservation was very important. This project was the first evaluation of the bustard conservation projects and programmes achievements and results of the last few decades. Most of these programmes were funded by the LIFE programme. This project made an effort to create synergies between the various LIFE bustard conservation projects, and evaluated the performance and the success of the best conservation practices implemented so far. This is extremely relevant for the conservation of these species around Europe. This project will also facilitate the implementation of future actions of NGOs, farmers and administrations in the conservation of these threatened species. The outputs of this project, especially the results of the international workshop, are being used to lobby EU governments to implement better agro-environmental measures in the current Rural Development Plans discussion. The demonstration and dissemination aims were an ever-present consideration throughout the project’s execution period - and beyond, with the publication of a reference book and the establishment of a bustard conservation contact group.


Environmental issues addressed:


endangered species‚  agricultural method‚  rural development

Target species

 Chlamydotis undulata   Otis tarda   Tetrax tetrax 

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description The beneficiary is the Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves. SPEA is a non-governmental organisation that studies and conserves birds and bird habitats in Portugal. It depends on the support of its members and supporters to achieve its objectives. SPEA is the Portuguese partner of BirdLife International, a global network of national organisations spread across some 100 countries (www.spea.pt).
Partners Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux, France Dirección General del Medio Natura-Consejeria de Medio Ambiente-Junta de Castilla y Léon, Spain Sociedad Española de Ornitologia, Spain Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, United Kingdom


Project reference LIFE03 NAT/CP/P/000008
Duration 01-MAR-2004 to 28-FEB -2006
Total budget 106,762.00 €
EU contribution 100,084.00 €
Project location Lisboa e vale do Tejo(Portugal)


Read more:

Project web site Webpage of the project


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