European Natura 2000 Award
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Viiankiaapa - FI1301706More
In Finnish Lapland, 150 kilometres from the Arctic Circle to the north, is the Viiankiaapa Natura 2000 area, covering 6 595 hectares. Viiankiaapa is Finland’s last and most precious aapa mire nature conservation area, with its indispensable richness of species: fauna, flora and entomology. Many species which are threatened or already extinct elsewhere in Finland and Europe are still plentiful in Viiankiaapa.
Viiankiaapa is protected by two different laws: the Finnish national mire protection law and the European Natura 2000 law. Finland has a global responsibility to take care of the world’s mires, which makes Viiankiaapa’s status even more valuable not only in Finland or Europe, but also worldwide.
In 2004, an Anglo-American mining company found one of the biggest ore bodies (copper and nickel) discovered in Europe this century, in Viiankiaapa. This started a battle of wills: a will to protect the last significantly rich mire, its species and conservation, versus a will to break the Natura 2000 law for the first time in Finland and destroy the 65.95 km2 of pure, indispensable nature for mining.
The local people in Finnish Lapland started a strong, multi-faced, impressive and international campaign to fight for Natura 2000 conservation and its strength, via many projects, concrete acts, events and media initiatives.
The case of Viiankiaapa is not about saving a couple of species: it is about saving a whole conservation area with all its species and habitats, and protecting the entire Natura 2000 network.
Wały - PLH120017More
The Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection undertook efforts from 2010 to 2015 to protect 19 Natura 2000 sites in the Malopolska province, in the Miechowska Upland. The work was carried out under five European and Polish projects: 'Conservation of xerothermic grasslands in Malopolska', 'Preparing Natura 2000 management plans', 'Conservation of xerothermic grasslands in Natura 2000 sites in Miechowska Upland' (LIFE+), and 'Pasturage of Olkuska sheep' x2. All of these sites protect very important and rare habitats: xerothermic grasslands (6210) with a large population of orchid species, Juniperus communis formations on calcareous grasslands (5130) and species listed in the Habitat Directive: Carlina onopordifolia (2249) and Cypripedium calceolus (1902). Because of the major threats, notably the lack of any agricultural use of the land from more than 20 years and afforestation causing degradation of habitats, many activities were carried out in conservation projects: collecting comprehensive information on the natural value of the sites; preparing Natura 2000 management plans (with a high level of social participation); and active conservation especially by cutting trees and bushes, mowing, sheep grazing and building up the local population of endangered species by ex-situ breeding. The main value of the project that extensive use was made of the land again, by engaging with local communities (farmers) involved in sheep grazing. The active protection work was monitored during the project by botanists, showing positive results in improving the condition of the habitat. Protecting 19 Natura 2000 sites in the Małopolska province, in all their complexity, constituted a huge challenge.
Vrachanski Balkan - BG0002053More
The current application promotes the successful reintroduction of the Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) as a nesting species in the Vrachanski Balkan SPA (BG0002053).
The site includes Vrachanski Balkan — the second largest Nature Park in Bulgaria, designated in 1989 for protection of a karst area and its unique rock formations — and Vratsata, the highest vertical limestone walls (over 400 m) on the Balkan Peninsula and in Europe at low altitude.
The Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) used to breed throughout Bulgaria, but almost became extinct in the 1970s after a mass campaign of long-lasting poisonous bait. The species was represented by a single breeding colony of some 45 pairs (2008), located in the Eastern Rhodopes (Southern Bulgaria). It was identified as an indicator species for assessing the contemporary environment and threats to vulture populations in Bulgaria.
The Griffon Vulture has been considered regionally extinct in the Vrachanski Balkan area for the past 70 years. Following a series of targeted conservation measures and a 5-year reintroduction programme, carried out by BPPS and coordinated by Green Balkans, 2015 figures show that there are five confirmed territorial pairs along with the first successfully fledged young bird.
For thousands of years, the cliffs have been spared the disruptions caused by human activity. During major climatic changes in the past, their favourable microclimates have enabled them to protect certain species. The cliffs are often the last refuge for those species that are very sensitive to competition. However, for various reasons, their recent state of preservation has been less than favourable. Since 1997, the project’s goal has been to study the existing ecosystems in detail and to undertake rehabilitation operations in the field, with the aim of developing a comprehensive method of restoration and management. As a result of this work, habitats 6110 and 8210 in the managed areas of Merinos and Cinq Ânes in Freyr have been restored and maintained in a favourable state. Documents relating to the protection and management of Belgium’s cliffs have also been published on the project website.
Confluenta Olt-Danube - ROSPA0024More
The “Cross-border conservation of Phalacrocorax pygmeus and Aythya nyroca at key sites in Romania and Bulgaria” (Green Borders) project focused on 2 bird species and their feeding, resting and breeding habitat on the Danube floodplain. One of the Natura 2000 sites where the project was implemented was the ROSPA0024 Olt-Danube Confluence. Communist hydrotechnical works destroyed the normal water regime specific to the Danube. At the same time, part of the resting and feeding habitat of Phalacrocorax pygmeus was lost. In our modern world, another series of threats affects the Phalacrocorax pygmeus population: degradation of breeding sites; restriction of foraging/feeding sites; disturbance at key breeding, feeding and wintering sites; mortality due to hunting (illegal and accidental) and fishing activities (entanglement in fishing nets); and pollution of wetlands. The key objectives were to address the threats: to ensure suitable breeding and feeding conditions at key sites by maintaining/restoring wetlands; to create disturbance-free conditions at key breeding and feeding sites; to eliminate mortality at breeding, feeding and wintering sites due to deliberate killing; and to prevent water pollution using strict management measures at key sites. To achieve these objectives and to guarantee a favourable conservation status for Phalacrocorax pygmeus at the Olt-Danube Confluence, 4 ha of willow and poplar were planted and 8 ha of open water mirrors were created. These actions allowed 1 000 ha of the Danube floodplain to be restored, resulting in an improved water regime, the installation of 8 warning signs and 20 buoys near the colonies, and the collection of 1 t of household garbage.
The blanket bogs of the South Pennines have been degraded by centuries of atmospheric pollution from the nearby industrial cities and towns, leading to a complete loss of peat-building Sphagnum mosses and widespread peat erosion. Air quality has improved since the 1980s and Sphagnum is beginning to recover around the bog margins, but the extensive eroded plateaus have needed enormous restoration efforts to re-vegetate bare peat, begin the process of raising water tables, and move toward a Sphagnum-rich vegetation community once again.
At Dove Stone, the RSPB, in partnership with the landowner United Utilities, is delivering an ambitious programme of restoration work, with the aim of restoring biodiversity and improving water quality on this important Natura 2000 site. Local volunteers are integral to this work and have been a key part of conservation delivery. Restoration began in 2008, and since 2010 the RSPB has had a nature reserve partnership across the 4 000 ha site, of which 2 500 ha are the priority habitat, blanket bog.
Following the successful re-vegetation of bare peat through United Utilities' Sustainable Catchment Management Programme, over 4 000 stone gully blocks have been placed in larger gullies, and over 4 500 heather bales have been used to raise water tables. Trials of Sphagnum restoration have led to successful methods of harvesting from donor sites and planting more than 100 ha; a transformation is underway.
Bird monitoring has shown the results of the restoration work: Golden Plover and Curlew have improved, and Dunlin have increased from an estimated 15 pairs in 2010 to 43 pairs in 2015. This is compelling evidence that restoration works.
Gruinart Flats, Islay - UK9003051More
This application describes an innovative and highly effective programme of work that the RSPB has carried out within the Gruinart Flats SPA on the island of Islay in western Scotland. This work has been of great benefit to Greenland white-fronted geese Anser albifrons flavirostris, and has also been valuable for barnacle geese Branta leucopsis and a number of breeding and wintering ducks and waders. The impact on Greenland white-fronted geese is of particular importance, as this sub-species winters exclusively in the UK and Ireland and is of major conservation concern: it appears in Annex I of the Birds Directive, is a priority for LIFE funding, and is Red-Listed in the UK.
The work has involved the creation of six bunded compartments, covering an area of 50.56 ha, in a grassland area in the south of the SPA. Water levels in these compartments can be controlled precisely and independently, which allows us to create shallow freshwater 'floods' as required. Floods of this kind occur nowhere else on Islay, and in only a few places in the whole of western Scotland. Therefore, our work is important at the regional and national levels, as well as locally.
The vegetation within the compartments is managed through a combination of grazing with cattle and mowing. The exact ways in which these two techniques are used and water levels are controlled have been refined over several years, and the resulting regime forms an excellent case study of best practice with very wide applicability. An especially notable feature of this regime is that the cattle involved are farmed on a commercial basis and are of very high quality; this means that we derive significant income from them, which greatly reduces the net cost of our conservation work.
Dunajské luhy - SKCHVU007More
The area known as the inland Danube delta was altered by the construction of flood-protection dikes and weirs, the filling of river side branches, the cutting-off of meanders and oxbows, the building of the network of drainage channels from wetlands, and the cutting-down of vast floodplain forests. In the last century, efforts to tame the river were completed with the construction of a massive water dam and a hydroelectric power plant. As a result of the dam, the Danube water flow was diverted into an artificial canal, contact with side branches was interrupted, and the water regime with natural floods was completely destroyed.
The Regional Association for Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development (BROZ) is an NGO that works for the conservation of the Danube river in Slovakia, along its 172 km. We focus on nature conservation through practical restoration activities in the region of western Slovakia, mostly in the Danube region. Our activities are based on the restoration and revitalization of river branches, wetlands, floodplain meadows, pastures, forests, reed beds and their rare and endangered wildlife.
In the past five years, we have been able to restore eight large river branches and oxbows hundreds of meters wide and over 270 hectares of wetlands and marshes. We have planted more than 60 000 trees, restored grasslands and pastures over an area of 248 hectares and reintroduced reed bed management across 138 hectares. Restored activities contribute to the improvement of feeding and nesting habitats for birds, and spawning areas for fish, as well as creating suitable habitats for amphibians, mammals and plants.
Sierras de Andujar - ES6160006More
The Iberian lynx is the most endangered wild cat species in the world. In 2002, when the project activities began, only 100 lynxes remained in the wild, in two isolated populations mainly located in privately-owned territory. The Government of Andalusia managed several projects supported by the EU LIFE fund to curb the species' rate of extinction and begin its recovery.
The main actions developed to achieve this aim were captive breeding and reintroduction of specimens into the wild, together with habitat improvements included in cooperation agreements between public and private entities and actions in support of its main prey, rabbits. All these actions have been vital in reversing the negative trends of the lynx population and paving the way for its recovery.
The design and execution of these initiatives relied on the close collaboration of all relevant public and private stakeholders. The participation of the landowners and managers of private hunting estates was particularly essential for the success of these activities. Stewardship agreements and voluntary contracts have been signed with 132 private owners, managers and hunting clubs in six Natura 2000 sites, reducing hunting pressure on rabbits and securing lynx-friendly land management across more than 95 000 hectares.
These conservation initiatives, implemented in territories included in the Natura 2000 network in Spain, have led to a major recovery among the Iberian lynx population (from 52 mature individuals in 2002 to 327 in 2014), enabling the IUCN to lower its threat category from ‘critically endangered’ to ‘endangered’. In addition, the collaborative work established through the project will ensure that this important work for Natura 2000 continues in the future.
Gipshügel bei Külsheim und Wüstphül - DE6428371More
20 years ago, the government of Central Franconia started a project, in cooperation with the Landesbund für Vogelschutz (Bavarian Society for Bird Protection), Heidelberg Cement and Knauf Gips, to restore the unique natural habitat of Sub-Pannonian steppe grassland in the region. Small, isolated remnants of this special vegetation were to be repopulated in abandoned gypsum quarries. To test the possibility of this, multiple test series were carried out, accompanied by a long-standing scientific monitoring program.
The results of these studies could be successfully implemented at a restored Knauf Gips KG gypsum quarry. The quarry - located adjacent to a nature reserve, which hosts remnants of the Sub-Pannonian steppe grassland - was arranged to offer optimal conditions to the neighbouring vegetation. The restoration project is accompanied by a two-year-interval monitoring and maintenance program, which runs until 2020.
Since the project started, the nature reserve has extended around the quarry and the complex is now registered as a Flora-Fauna-Habitat (FFH) known as “Gipshügel bei Külsheim und Wüstphül“ (Gypsum-Hills near Külsheim and Wüstphül).
This project has made a huge contribution to the connectivity and enlargement of the Sub-Pannonian steppe grassland habitat in Central Franconia. A newly erected nature trail around the FFH area, together with continuous guided tours for the public, aims to raise awareness of the project.
Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas - ES0000035More
Vultures are magnificent birds that not only fulfil a vital function in our ecosystem, but are part of our culture. The bearded vulture Gypaetus barbatus is the rarest of the four vulture species that exist in Europe and has a population estimated at 170-180 pairs.
In Andalusia (Spain), the bearded vulture disappeared in 1986 mainly because of direct persecution, accidental poisoning and human disturbance at the nesting sites.
The Fundación Gypaetus operates the bearded vulture breeding centre (CCQ) of Cazorla, which was inaugurated in 1996. It became one of the most important centres for ex situ conservation of the bearded vulture worldwide. More than 50 chicks born in the centre have been used for captive breeding or released in various projects to reintroduce the species in Europe. Ten years after the opening of the centre, young birds were released for the first time in the Natural Park of Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas (Jaén, Andalusia). Since then, 37 young bearded vultures have been released in Andalusia.
Unfortunately, in the early days, 11 birds were poisoned through pesticides used to kill small predators in the wild. A major anti-poison awareness-raising campaign was carried out in the region from 2010 to 2015, which significantly reduced the mortality of released birds.
The hard work, also supported through the EU LIFE fund, is showing results and two territories are occupied by individuals released under the reintroduction project in Andalusia. Tono (a male released in 2006) and Blimunda (a female released in 2010) paired up in the National Park and on 7 April 2015, the first chick was born in the wild in Andalusia since the species stopped breeding in the region over 30 years ago! Hortelano (a male released in 2010) and Marchena (a female released in 2012) have taken up residence in a second territory in the same Park — there are high hopes for results!
Something that felt like a dream 30 years ago is becoming reality: seeing the bearded vulture flying in Andalusian skies again.
ZPE Mourão/Moura/Barrancos - PTZPE0045More
The Black Vulture is a Critically Endangered species in Portugal, where its breeding population became extinct in the 70s. The significant shortage of carcasses (a result of strict sanitary rules that force farmers to collect all dead animals from the fields) and the absence of adequate nesting sites are currently two of the main challenges for this scavenger.
In 2010, as a result of conservation efforts, the Black Vulture returned to breed in central Portugal. However, in the south there were no signs of recovery... To change this trend, in partnership with other entities and regional stakeholders, LPN implemented a set of conservation measures to improve the survival, feeding and breeding conditions of Black Vultures in the Mourão/Moura/Barrancos SPA and the Guadiana Valley SPA. These included the creation of the first network of feeding stations (10) for scavenger birds of prey in southern Portugal and of 30 artificial nests for Black Vultures. Regular counts estimated a population of at least up to 33 Black Vultures in the region. An ‘Action Plan for the conservation of the Black Vulture at the Regional scale’ was set out (later integrated into the National Plan for the Conservation of Scavenger Birds), as well as a ‘Mitigation Plan of the Use of Poison’ (proposed for implementation by the national authority), and an important contribution was made to standardizing the process for creating and managing feeding stations for scavenger birds.
By 2015, thanks to these combined efforts, the Black Vulture successfully bred in southern Portugal for the first time in 40 years, using one of the project’s artificial nests. The establishment of a new breeding colony of Black Vultures (the third in Portugal and the only one in the south) is now in progress.
Foresta di Monte Arcosu - ITB041105More
Monte Arcosu nature reserve was acquired by the WWF Italy in the late 1980s, to save the highly endangered Corsican red deer (Cervus elaphus corsicanus) from extinction. A subspecies of the European red deer and endemic to Corsica and Sardinia, this species was already extinct in Corsica, and only small isolated populations remained in Sardinia. Following a massive campaign, WWF Italy acquired 3 600 ha of land in Monte Arcosu, designating the Foresta di Monte Arcosu WWF nature reserve. The protected area is part of the Natura 2000 network as an SCI (ITB041105 with a surface area of 30 053 ha) and SPA (ITB044009 with a surface area of 3 123 ha). In 2015 it also became part of the newly designated Gutturu Mannu regional park.
When WWF Italy launched the campaign on Monte Arcosu, there were only 23-25 pairs/1 000 ha of deer left. The threats to the species were poaching, forest fires and deforestation. In October 1985, WWF Italy acquired 3 000 ha of land in Monte Arcosu, with the aim of protecting its ecosystems and saving the red deer. This was the start of a massive fight against illegal hunting. Activities included intensive monitoring to remove traps and drive away illegal hunters. Acts of intimidation on the deer followed, but the immediate intervention of the WWF guards and volunteers saved many individuals. The forestry provided invaluable help. The thousands of removed traps have been collected and placed on a tree that now stands at the main entrance of the reserve to symbolize the fight to protect the deer. Today, the population of red deer has reached saturation in the nature reserve; they are dispersing outside the reserve borders, with the latest estimates calculating a density of 1 700 individuals.
La plaine et le massif des Maures - FR9301622More
The Natura 2000 site "Plaine et Massif des Maures" is facing many ecological issues. For example, the area is subjected to several natural and anthropogenic pressures, notably a high fire risk. Large fires regularly rage through the Maures area which is covered by forest. Reoccurring fires like these have a major impact on the evolution of natural habitats and species populations.
To effectively fight against this natural hazard, the French government and local communities have implemented a forest fire prevention policy by developing and equipping forest areas. For fire-fighters to be able to do their job, there is a need to maintain a track network, firebreaks, tanks, etc.
A vast network of fire-protection facilities covers the “Plaine et Massif des Maures” area. The project owners maintain this vast network to keep it operational. However, this work can damage certain protected species and natural habitats. For example, conventional mechanical clearing, which is usually carried out to maintain firebreaks, has an impact on the population of Hermann's tortoises, a symbolic local species whose populations have decreased significantly in recent decades.
In the last few years, Natura 2000 contracts have been set up to limit these damages, by funding manual brush cutting instead of mechanical brush clearing. Actors with very different objectives are therefore working together to keep forests and populations safe by maintaining firewalls and preserving natural habitats and sensitive species like Hermann's tortoise in the process.
Dolinata na reka Batova - BG0000102More
Oak forests in the Balchik SHA region were in poor condition due to being managed as scrub habitats for decades and to the clear felling system being applied. The natural recovery process is therefore badly affected and needs active and scientifically proven methods to be improved. Severe anthropogenic pressure exists in the targeted areas and comes from adjacent territories, settlements and seaside resort: people passing through; livestock grazing; clearing; burning; uprooting, etc. There is a real danger of typical forest habitats being lost due to the withering of trees and the lack of both natural regeneration and funding for forestation. One of the main objectives of the project was to restore priority oak habitat types — Pannonic woods with Quercus petraea and Carpinus betulus (91G0*), Pannonian woods with Quercus pubescens (91Н0*), Euro-Siberian steppic woods with Quercus spp. (91I0*) and Eastern white oak forests (91AA*) — over an area of 115 ha in two protected zones in the Natura 2000 network, located in the Black Sea Coastal region: Dolinata na reka Batova and Emine–Irakli.
The project is of a pilot character, however most of the issues faced by oak forests are the same, which is why the general management rules suggested here are viable for all oak forests in Bulgaria. The silvicultural methods applied have a demonstrative and innovative character (a new silvicultural system of management has been proposed, which is different from the one used so far in Bulgaria). The implementation of these methods is desperately needed for the Natura 2000 protected zones, given the zones' unsatisfactory conservation status.
The Natura 2000 site “Dry grasslands, alluvial plains and wetlands of the island of Miribel Jonage” with a surface of 2854 ha is located on the banks of the river Rhône, near the city of Lyon. Among its most remarkable habitats are the last surviving large alluvial dry grasslands of the river Rhône, consisting of two specific habitats of European Community priority: Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland on calcareous substrates and Xeric sand calcareous grasslands.
The Natura 2000 site includes the entire surface of the “Grand Parc Miribel Jonage”, a 2200 ha semi-urban leisure park, owned by SYMALIM and managed by SEGAPAL. The park covers almost 50 ha of dry grasslands, including some of the largest uninterrupted areas. These grasslands were listed in 2008. Their state of conservation was found to be generally bad, as 60% of them presented a high level of uncontrolled scrub-growth and needed to be restored to their original state.
SYMALIM and SEGAPAL drew up a Natura 2000 contract for €50 000 in order to set up a pastoral management project for those grasslands that were the most overgrown. For this purpose, herds of cows and goats were introduced, using rare and endangered breeds. Starting in 2012, this project has been closely monitored by two naturalists’ associations who carry out yearly counts of orchids and note the percentage of shrub growth on grazed plots.
The first results are encouraging, as the conservation state of 24 ha of dry grasslands has visibly improved while diversity of orchids has increased, with species that had disappeared returning. In addition to its environmental aspect, the project also has an economic side, due to the production and sale of meat, and a promotional side with social and media activities.
Salina di Cervia - IT4070007More
The project goal is the conservation of habitat and species inside nine Natura 2000 sites, SPAs and pSCIs at various degrees of overlap, located in Italy, France and Bulgaria. All the sites host saltworks (either abandoned or fully salt-producing). They are located in: Salina di Cervia and Saline di Molentargius (Italy); Camargue and Petite Camargue (France) and Pomorie (Bulgaria).
The project targeted six habitats, of which the priority 1150* Coastal lagoon is the most abundant. It also targeted ten bird species and three fish species.
The habitats were threatened by scarce water circulation and (for the Bulgarian site) also by invasive alien species (IAS). The fish species (only in the Italian sites) were also affected by scarce water circulation, due to their benthic behaviour. The birds are common to almost all the sites and Member States, and the common threats were a lack of nesting sites, disturbance from yellow legged gulls and collision with power lines.
The project has a five-year lifespan. It has been implemented by the six beneficiaries through massive actions to restore/improve water circulation by digging new channels for water circulation in lagoons, through building a variety of different new nesting sites, and through mechanical removal of IAS. Currently, the conservation status of about 14 000 hectares of coastal lagoons has been improved, targeted bird population has increased and in one site, targeted fish have recolonized the lagoon.
Lago di Varese - IT2010501More
The LIFE TIB Project aims to combat the loss of biodiversity caused by landscape fragmentation, and by degradation and destruction of habitats. It does this by enhancing the ecological corridor that connects the Alpine bioregion with the continental bioregion (Alps-Apennines) in the section between the Ticino river valley and the Varese Pre-Alps, through tangible actions of defragmentation, by creating and restoring habitats, and by reconciling the needs of land planning with the need to protect biodiversity and maintain consistency with the Natura 2000 Network (14 sites involved). In order to ensure the completion and sustainability of this project, meetings took place with different stakeholders. The result was a document called the Network Agreement, signed by 42 Municipalities, together with the Province of Varese, Campo dei Fiori Park, Ticino River Park, and the partners, Lombardia region, LIPU and the Cariplo Foundation. They committed to protect the ecological corridor through local land planning and the assessment of the effects of plans/projects on sites (art. 6.3 of the Habitats Directive). Nowadays, article 6.3 of the Habitats Directive is also implemented outside Natura 2000 Network sites, thanks to the entire ecological corridor Campo dei Fiori–Ticino river. An assessment of plans and projects allows a case by case analysis and will focus on reducing land consumption and maintaining ecological connections; it could also be a chance to improve the ecological quality of semi-natural areas. The TIB project is being implemented thanks to the EU Life programme, and is carried out by Provincia di Varese, Regione Lombardia, Lipu and the Fondazione Cariplo. It started in October 2011 and will end in December 2015.
Gorges du Gardon - FR9110081More
Identification and characterisation of the home range of 3 pairs of Bonelli’s eagle (Aquila fasciata) in the Gardon Gorges (France/Gard) using Argos GPS transmitters.
Expected outcomes with a wide range of conservation applications:
- knowledge of the ecology of the species: size and characteristics of the home range, how the species exploits its range and how it uses it over time, etc.
- knowledge of selection of habitats and hunting grounds for each pair: identification of the birds’ preferred areas and their characteristics in order to assess risks to the survival of individuals.
The “avoid, reduce, offset” method for managing environmental impacts encompasses all aspects of the environment, in particular the natural habitats of important species like the Bonelli’s eagle. Knowledge of the home ranges will enable the project stakeholders at the outset of the project to identify appropriate measures to avoid, reduce and, wherever necessary and possible, offset any significant negative impact on the eagles’ range.
Rannaniidu - EE0040348More
The Pärnu coastal meadow complex is an interesting example of a Natura 2000 site protection priority for conservation of Boreal Baltic coastal meadows and coastal lagoons located in an urban environment. The nature reserve is home to many nationally important species as well as the Marsh angelica (Angelica palustris), which is protected by the EU Habitats Directive.
The area has suffered from a lack of management due to the end of traditional activities such as grazing and haymaking, resulting from changes in agricultural practice during the second half of the 20th century. The lack of management has resulted in these areas becoming overgrown with reed and bushes, which directly damages the natural values of the habitat. Reed beds are an unsuitable habitat for most meadow species, as a result biodiversity in the area has declined. Most of the lagoons were in a poor conservation state due to overgrowth, eutrophication, pollution from rubbish and wastewater. They had therefore also lost their recreational potential.
The Estonian Environmental Board, with the help of EU LIFE funding, has tackled this problem using the tried and tested method of mechanically removing old reeds and bushes and then reintroducing cattle across 200 hectares of coastal meadows — in an urban setting! In addition, water regime restoration improved the conservation status of several lagoons. The location near a major town combined with waste management problems meant that public education was an important aspect of the project activities. A public awareness plan was implemented and included building a visitor centre, two observation towers and a nature trail.
Lyme Bay and Torbay - UK0030372More
Lyme Bay, a world heritage site and habitat for globally significant flora and fauna, is home to an active fishing community and supports a significant tourism trade. The Natura 2000 site: Lyme Bay & Torbay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) became the UK’s largest marine protected area in 2008, when scallop dredging was banned. However, this had the unintended consequence of encouraging fishermen to increase the number of static pots and nets being used. The bay and its fragile reef ecosystem and with it the future of the region’s fishing community and local economy were again threatened by overfishing in the 90 square miles where scallop dredging was banned.
In 2011, to solve this problem and save the fishery, the Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE), a registered charity for protecting oceans through providing innovative solutions to overfishing and enabling the creation of marine reserves, forged a unique, voluntary partnership between fishermen, marine managers (IFCAs, MMO and Natural England) and conservationists. The Foundation facilitated the creation of the Lyme Bay Fisheries & Conservation Reserve and its multi-stakeholder management committee. BLUE works with local fishermen, enabling them to create a sustainable and profitable future for their businesses while helping to conserve the local reef. A Memorandum of Understanding on regulation of the fishery, a reporting system for all catches and a research programme has been signed. Actions to support the fishery include refrigeration on ships, branding of products and awareness-raising. This revolutionary model of best-practice management financially benefits fishing communities and motivates them to fish more sustainably.
The project has improved biodiversity as well as socio-economic conditions. Fishermen and angler records show that the catch and size of fish are increasing. The conservation status of the reef is also showing improvements. This initiative has provided a blueprint for how fishing can be allowed to continue in other marine SACs and the 127 marine protected zones proposed along the UK coast. The project model is already being replicated in other areas in the UK and has been hailed as a ‘world-first’ given its radical collaborative approach.
Lands End to Cape Bank SCI - UK0030375More
Achieving the UK vision of ‘clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas’ and using them sustainably requires continued action to reduce human pressures, while allowing marine industries to thrive and develop.
This application is for our project to deliver effective fisheries management measures for our highest risk marine Natura 2000 sites, with reference to the protection achieved for inshore reef habitats and the collaborative approach taken.
Recognising that fishing has one of the biggest impacts on our marine Natura sites, Defra revised the approach to managing fishing activities within European marine sites (EMS) in 2012 to deliver a more effective management regime which worked through stakeholders. The approach set out a clear framework and timeline for Regulators to follow. It has been implemented on a risk-prioritised basis for sites within 12 nautical miles and applied to both UK and non-UK fishing vessels. A key component of the approach was a stakeholder implementation group including fishing industry and environmental NGO representatives, which was set up to provide advice on the delivery of the project.
This project has significantly enhanced effective management of fisheries in our marine Natura 2000 sites. The collaborative approach has strengthened the relationship between the fishing industry, NGOs and government agencies. We have also shared our successes with the Commission and other Member States.
The task undertaken by all the agencies involved has been considerable, but delivered on time. Over 80 areas are now closed to bottom towed gear, equating to 3 250 square kilometres, through the use of seventeen byelaws in place to protect the most vulnerable marine UK habitats.
On 15 October 2015, Crane Conservation Germany opened the KRANORAMA — a modern, barrier-free crane and nature observation station. The KRANORAMA is the result of a 3-year process of application, planning and implementation. It is built within a Natura 2000 site, where thousands of cranes rest for several weeks during spring and autumn migration. When the cranes arrive in the weakly developed region of the northern part of Western Pomerania in Germany, thousands of tourists come to see them. Prior to 2015, the infrastructure was overstretched, resulting in disturbed cranes, unsatisfied tourists and a dangerous traffic situation as tourists stopped on the roads to see cranes. The KRANORAMA provides a large non-asphalted parking area, from which the tourists can walk into the Natura 2000 site to the wooden observation station. Up to 120 people can enter the KRANORAMA and admire the largest birds in Germany without disturbing them. Crane Conservation Germany organizes rangers to inform KRANORAMA visitors, as well as an artificial feeding system to distract cranes from agricultural land with new seeds. In addition to the cranes, visitors can see a variety of migratory birds and a beautiful landscape surrounding the "Günzer See" which has been declared a "National Natural Heritage" site. The KRANORAMA was built by Crane Conservation Germany as part of the "Schatz an der Küste" collaborative project. It receives financial support from the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation and funding from the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Building and Nuclear Safety, within the Federal Biological Diversity Programme.
Río Alcarrache - ES4310015More
In 2012, ACCIONA began the project “Nesting boxes for protected species in ACCIONA’s facilities”, with the main goal of creating clear and measurable benefits to increase populations of particular birds of prey protected by national legislation in the Spanish Catalogue of Threatened Species.
The lack of suitable nesting places acts as limiting factor for these species, leading them to use inappropriate and exposed breeding places that result in a high predation level. This kind of species also plays an essential role in the natural balance, including the regulation of micromammal populations.
500 nesting boxes have already been installed in Spain in different Company facilities (facades of buildings, water treatment plants, renewable energy installations, vineyards). This project has been extended to Portugal and Mexico.
During the last two years, occupation in the breeding period has been monitored, to obtain information about the occupancy level.
The occupancy level of nesting boxes has been 52%, and 83% of the target species have nested. More than 100 bird of prey chicks have already born thanks to this project. Other bird species of environmental interest, such as the hoopoe, have also nested.
Moreover, around 5% of the nesting boxes have been occupied by colonies of bees, benefiting a species whose populations have decreased in recent years and which is essential for the pollination of crops and for ecosystem services.
The European yew (Taxus baccata L.) is a flagship tree. It is one of the longest living in the world with tremendous value in terms of cultural, natural and scientific heritage. In Europe, but especially in the Mediterranean region, the yew and its habitat are threatened by a wide array of factors including climate and land use changes, forest fires and livestock pressure. For these reasons, yew groves are a priority habitat for conservation in the European Union, classified as Habitat 9580*, and require effective conservation measures. In addition, the uniqueness of the yew groves makes them a good tool to effectively communicate the value of biodiversity and its preservation.
In the region, yew grows in isolated populations with other tree species in mixed forest. As the majority of the yew groves are privately-owned forests, stewardship agreements have been established to ensure the impact over time of the conservation actions. The project inventoried and characterized the forest structure of more than 150 plots to specifically define conservation plans for each forest typology. The main conservation actions have been: i) selective felling to reduce competition affecting yew juveniles, ii) fuel load reduction in the surroundings to decrease the spread of wildfires; and iii) reinforcement of the yew habitat by planting yew seedlings and seedlings of fleshy-fruited trees to attract dispersers of yew seeds. The forestry actions and results and the socio-economic impact have been monitored in detail to obtain scientifically based conservation practices. The acquired knowledge and environmental sensitivity has been disseminated by activities specifically addressing forestry owners, workers and shepherds, as well as the general public.
Buntsandsteinfelsen am Main - DE6221401More
SPA6221-401 ‘Bundsandsteinfelsen am Main’, Peregrine falcon, Eurasian eagle owl.
Situation: native racial population of peregrine falcon which existed even in times of serious endangerment, disturbance during breeding and rearing times, and maintenance of a substantial population of peregrine falcon and eagle owl in the various areas of the SPA.
Most important activities: creation of breeding sites, protection of endangered breeding sites, survey of annual breeding and occurrences, education of recreational athletes (climbers), care for nests and buildings, field trips and public relations.
Most important achievements: constant population in all parts of the habitat, and positive development of nestlings.
Laurissilva da Madeira - PTMAD0001More
Where? In three areas of Laurel forest classified as Natura 2000 areas (PTMAD001) and the Natural Park of Madeira.
Why? The Macaronesian Sparrowhawk is listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive and is classified as a priority subspecies. Despite its conservation status of Least Concern in the Red Book of Vertebrates of Portugal (2005) and the IUCN Redlist (2001), the lack of current information about its distribution and population trend in the archipelago of Madeira means that the conservation status of the two populations cannot be measured. The fires in some areas of the SPA Laurel Forest in recent years, coupled with habitat loss due to the expanding distribution of invasive plants, aggravate conservation problems for this species. Consequently, urgent measures for the recovery of the Laurel forest of Madeira are crucial in the conservation of the Macaronesian Sparrowhawk. The recovery of the Laurel habitat will benefit the Macaronesian Sparrowhawk population but also many other species of birds, invertebrates and plants listed in Annex I of the EC Birds Directive 74/409/EEC and Annex II of the EC Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC.
When? Preparatory action (A) took place from 1 July to 31 December 2013, conservation action (B) from 1 February 2013, and monitoring action (C) from 1 September 2013 to 30 November 2015.
Who? The team of the project LIFE Fura-bardos (SPEA, SPNM, DRFC).
What? All actions to combat the loss of Laurel forest habitat. Specifically:
SIERRA MORENA- JAEN- ANDALUCÍA - ES0000090More
The main aim of the Friends of the Iberian Imperial Eagle, Iberian Lynx and Private Natural Areas Foundation is to provide biodiversity and contribute to sustainable local economic development, while helping the most endangered species in Spain: the Iberian lynx and Iberian imperial eagle.
For generations, the private land owners who are partners of this foundation have managed their lands, taking care to protect their patrimonial herds of cattle, the conditions of their pastures and wooded areas, and their agricultural farms. They have improved this management method in recent years by taking into account conservation challenges.
This great project currently has around 130 private land owners with a total of 650 000 ha. These privately owned estates in Spain welcome many of the natural values that the whole society enjoys. The government, organizations representing the public, and private individuals have developed tools to preserve this heritage and support the work they do.
Through our commitment to land owners and wildlife, we have become probably the most important land stewardship organization in our country, which means that we support responsible owners who conserve the species and landscapes of their lands.
Spain is home to a quarter of Europe’s biodiversity. Consequently, about 30% of the country is part of the Natura 2000 network. It has been shown that we can manage a territory to benefit wildlife, without sacrificing profitability. The work of many owners with custodians has caused both the Iberian lynx and the Iberian imperial eagle populations to increase in the last 20 years.
Zbiornik Nyski - PLB160002More
On Górażdże’s mining sites, at least three species threatened at the EU level are breeding on islands, i.e. the common tern, little tern, and Mediterranean gull, together with some other important species like the common gull, black-headed gull and little ringed plover. However, the suitability of these islands is often restricted to a short period after their creation by sediment deposition, so the number of suitable islands for breeding is limited.
The project carried out by the Polish Society for the Protection of Birds and the Górażdże Group aims to improve the situation of island breeding birds in selected Górażdże quarries.
The project had immediate positive results. Clearing the vegetation from the islands in Wójcice pit in the Nysa reservoir increased the number of breeding birds: black-headed gulls reached their highest numbers ever (almost 2 000 breeding pairs) and the number of Mediterranean gulls (10 pairs) and common terns (70 pairs) also increased compared to previous years.