LIFE Project Cover Photo

Conservation of Falco cherrug in the Carpathian basin

Reference: LIFE06 NAT/H/000096 | Acronym: Falco cherrug-Hu/SK

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

The Saker falcon (Falco cherrug) is a very rare and threatened species in Europe. The total European breeding population was, until recently, estimated at 450 pairs. Hungary and Slovakia hold about 40% of this population. Therefore, the conservation of the population in the Carpathian basin in these two countries was crucial to the survival of the species in Europe. Although populations increased in these two countries between 1990 and 2000, the overall European population trend was in decline ? falling by more than 20% during this period. The reasons for this were unclear, but main threats were thought to include the loss and degradation of natural nest sites, degradation of feeding habitat and loss of food resources, increased mortality caused by electrocution and hunting, reduced breeding success by collapsing natural nests, human disturbance and possibly, increased mortality on migration route and winter grounds. Additionally, the decline is linked with the regional extinction of the Saker falcon?s preferred prey, the European ground squirrel(Spermophilus citellus).


OBJECTIVES

The project aimed to reinforce ongoing efforts to strengthen the Hungarian and Slovakian populations of the Saker falcon, a globally vulnerable species, listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive and also considered as a priority species for LIFE Nature funding. The project?s main objectives were to identify the main reasons for the decrease in the European population and to create favourable conditions to stabilise the situation in the short-term. Measures to reach these goals would include:

  • Securing nesting sites by protecting and establishing Saker falcon in potential nesting places (installing artificial nest boxes);
  • Better understanding the food and habitat preferences of the species and running a comprehensive monitoring programme;
  • Elaborating European ground squirrel-friendly habitat management methods for SPA management and by influencing agri-environmental measures for the target species and prey;
  • Reintroducing the European ground squirrel in some potential Saker falcon habitats;
  • Reducing key mortality factors (e.g. insulating dangerous electric pylons, guarding nests);
  • Evaluating migration losses via use of satellite telemetry and the collection of information from wintering grounds (establishing and operating an international mailing list); and
  • Establishing a communications? programme and awareness-raising activities for the species.

  • RESULTS

    The project was very successful. At the start of the project (2006), there were an estimated 140 breeding pairs of Saker falcon in Hungary and 23 pairs in Slovakia. By the end of the project (September 2010) around 200-220 pairs were counted in Hungary and 35-38 pairs in Slovakia. Therefore, as planned, the European core population of the globally vulnerable Saker falcon had been stabilised. Moreover, the original proposals were exceeded as, according to monitoring results, the population has even started to show a steady increase.

    All the planned measures were implemented on time and to budget. Coordinated by the beneficiary, these various conservation actions were carried out by a large number of partner organisations (state organisations and NGOs) working in co-operation across the two neighbouring countries. Importantly, the project collected a significant amount of new information about the species? roaming, migration, land use etc., which should prove valuable for future conservation work. Although the project actions were located in the Carpathian basin, the findings have been disseminated worldwide.

    Other key results include:

  • Establishment of a GIS database detailing habitats, providing a new knowledge base on the impacts of specific agricultural practices and subsidy systems on the species;
  • Installation (with control and monitoring) of 540 artificial nests/nest boxes in Hungary and 105 in Slovakia. This included tree-planting (576 individual trees) across four SPAs;
  • Reintroductions of more than 4 800 European ground squirrel across 28 sites in 13 SPAs;
  • Insulation of 8 369 electricity pylons (over 7 500 of these were in Hungary and the rest in Slovakia). As a result of this important measure, the death/ injury rate over the insulated sections was reduced by 96%;
  • Tagging, using satellite transmitters, was carried out on 39 young birds and 4 adults in Hungary and 6 juveniles in Slovakia;
  • Awareness-raising measures were implemented among hunters resulting in the reduction of shot birds by 34 % in 2009 and in 2010, compared with 2007-08 figures;
  • Publication/ distribution of various information material e.g. Best practice agri-environment advisory methods on shared falcon/ prey habitats; leaflets (1 500) on suitable land use practices (distributed to farmers), guidelines on (i) habitat management practices for the target species and its preferred prey for different types of grasslands and (ii) habitat rehabilitation and management methods; and
  • Development of a model for the Hungarian population of the target species, to better understand population dynamics.All the planned measures were implemented on time and to budget. Coordinated by the beneficiary, these various conservation actions were carried out by a large number of partner organisations (state organisations and NGOs) working in co-operation across the two neighbouring countries. Importantly, the project collected a significant amount of new information about the species? roaming, migration, land use etc., which should prove valuable for future conservation work. Although the project actions were located in the Carpathian basin, the findings have been disseminated worldwide.

    Other key results include:

  • Establishment of a GIS database detailing habitats, providing a new knowledge base on the impacts of specific agricultural practices and subsidy systems on the species;
  • Installation (with control and monitoring) of 540 artificial nests/nest boxes in Hungary and 105 in Slovakia. This included tree-planting (576 individual trees) across four SPAs;
  • Reintroductions of more than 4 800 European ground squirrel across 28 sites in 13 SPAs;
  • Insulation of 8 369 electricity pylons (over 7 500 of these were in Hungary and the rest in Slovakia). As a result of this important measure, the death/ injury rate over the insulated sections was reduced by 96%;
  • Tagging, using satellite transmitters, was carried out on 39 young birds and 4 adults in Hungary and 6 juveniles in Slovakia;
  • Awareness-raising measures were implemented among hunters resulting in the reduction of shot birds by 34 % in 2009 and in 2010, compared with 2007-08 figures;
  • Publication/ distribution of various information material e.g. Best practice agri-environment advisory methods on shared falcon/ prey habitats; leaflets (1 500) on suitable land use practices (distributed to farmers), guidelines on (i) habitat management practices for the target species and its preferred prey for different types of grasslands and (ii) habitat rehabilitation and management methods; and
  • Development of a model for the Hungarian population of the target species, to better understand population dynamics.
  • ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


    Reference: LIFE06 NAT/H/000096
    Acronym: Falco cherrug-Hu/SK
    Start Date: 01/10/2006
    End Date: 30/09/2010
    Total Budget: 2,152,042 €
    EU Contribution: 1,606,715 €
    Project Location: Hungary/Slovakia
    Project Website: www.sakerlife.mme.hu

    CONTACT DETAILS


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Bükk National Park Directorate
    Legal Status: PUBLIC
    Address: Sánc u. 6, 3304, Eger,
    Contact Person: József FIDLOCZKY
    Email: fidlojo@gmail.com
    Tel: +36-30-349 5664
    Fax: +36-36-412 791


    LIFE Project Map

    ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

    THEMES

    • Birds

    KEYWORDS

    • protected area
    • endangered species

    TARGET EU LEGISLATION

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

    SPECIES

    • Falco cherrug

    NATURA 2000 SITES

    Type Code Name
    SPA HUAN10001 Aggteleki-karszt
    SPA HUAN10002 Putnoki-dombság
    SPA HUBF30001 Északi-Bakony
    SPA HUBN10002 Borsodi-sík
    SPA HUBN10003 Bükk-hegység és peremterületei
    SPA HUBN10004 Hevesi-sík
    SPA HUBN10005 Kesznyéten
    SPA HUBN10006 Mátra
    SPA HUBN10007 Zempléni-hegység a Szerencsi-dombsággal és a Hernád-völggyel

    BENEFICIARIES

    Name Type
    Bükk National Park Directorate Coordinator
    Aggtelek National Park Directorate, Hungary Participant
    Balaton National Park Directorate, Hungary Participant
    Duna-Dráva National Park Directorate, Hungary Participant
    Duna-Ipoly National Park Directorate, Hungary Participant
    Fertő-Hanság National Park Directorate, Hungary Participant
    Hortobágy National Park Directorate, Hungary Participant
    Körös-Maros National Park Directorate, Hungary Participant
    Kiskunság National Park Directorate, Hungary Participant
    Örség National Park Directorate, Hungary Participant
    MME/BirdLife Hungary, Hungary Participant
    E-misszió Environmental Association, Hungary Participant
    PRO VÉRTES Public Foundation for Nature Conservation, Hungary Participant
    Raptor Protection of Slovakia Participant
    The State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic Participant
    The Society for the Protection of Birds in Slovakia Participant
    West-Slovak Electric Company Participant

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