LIFE TRANSFERT - Reinforcement and conservation of Lesser Kestrel populations in Aude (FR) and Extrémadure (ES)

LIFE05 NAT/F/000134

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Yvan TARIEL
Tel: +33 01 53585838
Email: yvan.tariel@lpo.fr

Project description:


The lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) is a small bird of prey, 27–33 cm in length with a 63–72 cm wingspan. The species breeds from the Mediterranean across Asia. It is a summer migrant, often wintering in Africa. It is rare to find the bird north of its breeding range.

Both the population and range of the lower kestrel is declining in Europe. Populations in Europe have decreased by 90% since the middle of the 20th century, making the bird one of European importance. In France, only three of the original twelve breeding areas remain, with approximately 115 couples. The main causes of decline are seen to be unsuitable agricultural management, human disturbance, power lines and poisoning by pesticides.

Recent work has already sought to halt the decline of the species and increase understanding of its needs and threats, including a previous LIFE project (LIFE 97 NAT/F/004119). This project increased understanding of the bird’s feeding habitats and was very positive about the potential for reinforcing and increasing the existing population.

In Spain, thanks to strict legislation and reintroduction programmes, the population is up to about 12 000 couples. Nevertheless, to guarantee conservation of the species in France and Spain, more feeding habitats and restoration of urban nesting sites are needed.


The LIFE TRANSFERT project aimed to improve the conservation status of the lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) population in two Natura 2000 sites, in Aude (France) and Extramadura (Spain). It sought to do this through international collaboration and exchange of competences between partners in France and Spain.

The project planned to establish a breeding centre in France with the assistance of the Spanish project partner and to release bird chicks into nature so as to establish a new population of at least 10 couples in the Aude department. Throughout the project, the beneficiary intended to carry out studies and monitoring of the birds to improve knowledge and understanding of the species’ biology and reasons for its mortality.

The learning from the project was hoped to enable to beneficiary to produce guidelines for habitat management in favour of the lesser kestrel as a final output.


The LIFE Transfert project successfully developed co-operation between hunting, tourism and bird-protection associations and between bodies in France and Spain to improve the conservation status of the lesser kestrel. Even though the populations are still vulnerable, they have been strengthened and understanding of their needs increased.

Through exchange of expertise and collaboration between the international partners, the project successfully set up a fully operational breeding centre for the lesser kestrel in France. Following good results, the reintroduction programme achieved the creation of a new sub-population of 12 nesting pairs of the species in Aude. This success exceeded the initial expectations of the project partners, although the population remains vulnerable and will need to be supported in the future.

The partners built nests for the birds in strategic locations. In Spain, 100 nests were built on a church roof, which should help prevent chicks from falling before they are ready to fly. In France, 50 nest boxes were mounted on electric posts or buildings around the re-introduction site. An unexpected challenge of the project was that another bird species - the European Roller, (Coracias garrulus) - competed with the lower kestrel for the nests in France. The partners used a different model of nest box for the last 20 boxes in an attempt to overcome this threat.

Surveillance and monitoring activities - including motion-activated webcams on feeding chicks - provided new learning about the birds. These activities also helped identify threats to the species, such as restoration work to roofs in Spain and predators in France. Partners carried out toxicology analyses to identify risks from pesticides and developed a model of demographic dynamics to assess population viabilities.

As well as directly improving around 58ha of habitat, the project has also provided for better ongoing management in the future. A major outcome was the agreement of habitat management guidelines for France and Spain based on learning from the project. A new French National Action Plan for the lesser kestrel 2010-14 was elaborated, although not yet officially approved. Finally, the project led to a proposed extension of the SPA in Extramadura to include the main feeding habitats of the bird.

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


introduction of animal species‚  monitoring‚  protected area‚  survey

Target EU Legislation

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

Target species

 Falco naumanni     

Natura 2000 sites

SPA FR9110080 Montagne de la Clape
SPA FR9110108 Basse plaine de l'Aude



Coordinator Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description The ‘Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux’ (Bird Protection League) was founded in 1912 and has been the official representative of BirdLife International in France since 1993. It has about 33 000 members.
Partners LPO Aude, France Grupo de Defensa Medioambiental de Almendralejo (DREMA), Spain Centre de l’Union Française des Centres de Sauvegarde de la Faune Sauvage de Millau, France LPO Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur, France Association des Chasseurs et des propriétaires du Pérignanais, France Centre National d’Informations Toxicologiques Vétérinaires, France Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France Parc Naturel Régional de la Narbonnaise, France


Project reference LIFE05 NAT/F/000134
Duration 01-SEP-2005 to 31-AUG -2009
Total budget 1,284,712.00 €
EU contribution 963,534.00 €
Project location Extremadura(España) Languedoc-Roussillon(France)


Read more:

Brochure "Renforcement et conservation du Faucon crécerellette (Falco naumanni) dans l'Aude (France) et l'Estrémadure (Espagne)"(985KB)
Brochure "Reforzamiento y conservación del Cernícalo primilla (Falco naumanni) en Aude (Francia) y Extremadura (España)"(1MB)
Newsletter "Le Faucon crécerellette : Feuille de liaison des ...
Newsletter "Crécerellette info, n°4-5, julio 2006" (837 KB)
Newsletter "Primilla info: El folleto informativo de los resp ...
Newsletter "Crécerellette info: Feuille de liaison des acteur ...
Newsletter "Primilla info: El folleto de información de los a ...
Newsletter "Crécerellette info: Feuille de liaison des acteur ...
Newsletter "Le Faucon crécerellette : Feuille de liaison des ...
Newsletter "Le Faucon crécerellette : Feuille de liaison des ...
Newsletter "Crécerellette info: Feuille de liaison des acteur ...
Newsletter "Crécerellette info, n°4-5, juillet 2006" (1.25MB)
Newsletter "Crécerellette info: Feuille de liaison des acteur ...
Newsletter "Primilla info: El boletín de información sobre la ...
Newsletter "Le Faucon crécerellette: Feuille de liaison du pl ...
Newsletter "Crécerellette info, n°3, septembre 2005" (899 KB)
Poster Exhibition panels (4.45 MB)
Poster "Les faucons de France et d'Espagne : une biodiver ...
Project web site Project's website (FR)
Project web site Project's website (ES)
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan After-LIFE Conservation Plan
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Manual de gestión de hábitats del Cernícalo Primi ...
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Guide de gestion des habitats d’alimentation du F ...
Publication: Layman report "Balance y perspectivas"
Publication: Layman report Plaquette bilan
Publication: Pedagogical tool "El Cernícalo Primilla y otros Halcones Mediterrán ...
Publication: Pedagogical tool "Le faucon crécerellette et autres faucons méditer ...
Publication: Proceedings "Actas del VII Congreso Internacional sobre el Cer ...
Video link "Conservation of the Lesser Kestrel and its habitats" (31)
Video link "Conservación del cernícalo primilla y sus hábitats" (32')
Video link "Conservation du Faucon crécerellette et de ses habitats" (31)


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