LIFE Project Cover Photo

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

Reference: LIFE05 NAT/F/000134 | Acronym: LIFE TRANSFERT

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

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.


OBJECTIVES

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.


RESULTS

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). 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).

ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


Reference: LIFE05 NAT/F/000134
Acronym: LIFE TRANSFERT
Start Date: 01/09/2005
End Date: 31/08/2009
Total Eligible Budget: 65,000 €
EU Contribution: 963,534 €
Project Location:

CONTACT DETAILS


Coordinating Beneficiary: Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux
Legal Status: PRIVATE
Address: Fonderies Royales, 8-10 rue du Docteur Pujos, BP 90263, 17305, Rochefort, France
Contact Person:
Email:
Website: Visit Website


LIFE Project Map

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

THEMES

  • Birds

KEYWORDS

  • introduction of animal species
  • monitoring
  • protected area
  • survey

TARGET EU LEGISLATION

  • Directive 79/409 - Conservation of wild birds (02.04.1979)

TARGET HABITAT TYPES

  • 0 - Non applicable (i.e.species project)

SPECIES

  • Falco naumanni

NATURA 2000 SITES

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

BENEFICIARIES

Name Type
Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux Coordinator
Centre de l’Union Française des Centres de Sauvegarde de la Faune Sauvage de Millau, France Participant
LPO Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur, France Participant
Association des Chasseurs et des propriétaires du Pérignanais, France Participant
Centre National d’Informations Toxicologiques Vétérinaires, France Participant
Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France Participant
Parc Naturel Régional de la Narbonnaise, France Participant
LPO Aude, France Participant
Grupo de Defensa Medioambiental de Almendralejo (DREMA), Spain Participant

READ MORE

Type Resource
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)
Project web site Project's website (FR)
Project web site Project's website (ES)
Poster "Les faucons de France et d'Espagne : une biodiversité à protéger. Halcones de Francia y de España, una biodiversidad de especies a proteger" (4.45 MB)
Poster Exhibition panels (4.45 MB)
Publication "El Cernícalo Primilla y otros Halcones Mediterráneos - Cuaderno técnico y didáctico" (9 MB)
Publication "Manual de gestión de hábitats del Cernícalo Primilla" (3 MB)
Publication "Guide de gestion des habitats d’alimentation du Faucon crécerellette en Méditerranée française - Site n°1 <<Montagne de la Clape et Basse plaine de l’Aude>>" (7 MB)
Publication "Actas del VII Congreso Internacional sobre el Cernícalo Primilla/Actes du VIIe Congrès International sur le Faucon crécerellette - Almendralejo, 20-23/11/2008" (5.5 MB)
Publication After-LIFE Conservation Plan
Publication "Balance y perspectivas"
Publication Plaquette bilan
Publication "Le faucon crécerellette et autres faucons méditerranéens - Cahier technique et pédagogique" (9 MB)
Video link "Conservation du Faucon crécerellette et de ses habitats" (31)
Video link "Conservación del cernícalo primilla y sus hábitats" (32')
Video link "Conservation of the Lesser Kestrel and its habitats" (31)
Newsletter "Crécerellette info, n°4-5, julio 2006" (837 KB)
Newsletter "Crécerellette info, n°4-5, juillet 2006" (1.25MB)
Newsletter "Crécerellette info: Feuille de liaison des acteurs de la conservation du faucon crécerellette en France, n°6-7, novembre 2007" (2.010 KB)
Newsletter "Primilla info: El boletín de información sobre la conservación del Cernícalo Primilla, n°6-7, noviembre 2007"(1.91MB)
Newsletter "Le Faucon crécerellette: Feuille de liaison du plan français de restauration du faucon crécerellette, n°1, mai 2003" (905 KB)
Newsletter "Crécerellette info, n°3, septembre 2005" (899 KB)
Newsletter "Le Faucon crécerellette : Feuille de liaison des acteurs de la conservation du faucon crécerellette en France, n°18-19, mars 2014" (1.659 KB)
Newsletter "Primilla info: El folleto de información de los actores de la conservación del Cernicalo primilla, n°8-9, enero 2009"(3.162 KB)
Newsletter "Crécerellette info: Feuille de liaison des acteurs de la conservation du faucon crécerellette en France, n°10-11, août 2009" (2.409 KB)
Newsletter "Primilla info: El folleto informativo de los responsables de la conservación del Cernicalo primilla en España y en Francia, n°10-11, agosto 2009"(2.226 KB)
Newsletter "Crécerellette info: Feuille de liaison des acteurs de la conservation du faucon crécerellette en France, n°12-13, janvier 2011" (2.603 KB)
Newsletter "Le Faucon crécerellette : Feuille de liaison des acteurs de la conservation du faucon crécerellette en France, n°14-15, novembre 2012" (4.617 KB)
Newsletter "Le Faucon crécerellette : Feuille de liaison des acteurs de la conservation du faucon crécerellette en France, n°16-17, avril 2013" (3.008 KB)
Newsletter "Crécerellette info: Feuille de liaison des acteurs de la conservation du faucon crécerellette en France, n°8-9, janvier 2009" (3.162 KB)