The lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina) is a raptor species whose breeding range is restricted mostly to central, eastern and south-eastern Europe. It has suffered a major decline in many countries, while Romania is one of its most important strongholds. The Romanian Aquila pomarina population is estimated at 2 000 pairs, representing 22.2% of the total EU population. The project area covers 12 SPAs holding jointly 26.6% of the Romanian population (532 pairs), which represents 5.9% of the EU and 2.66% of the global population. In Romania, the main threat to the survival of the species is habitat loss caused by aggressive forestry practices in nesting or breeding areas, but other human activities (hunting, infrastructure development, etc.) or overhead power lines, reduce significantly the number of birds. Forestry activities are often undertaken during the breeding season causing breeding failure. These practices have put enormous pressure on the breeding habitat resulting in significant modification or even loss of habitat. Instability of the nests built in suboptimal habitats and consequent breeding failure have resulted in increased mortality rates and a shrinking of the distribution range.
The main objective of the CAPR project was to achieve and maintain a favourable conservation status for the Romanian population of A. pomarina. This would be reached through stabilising the existing population and ensuring conditions to maintain a favourable conservation status in the long-term. Management measures at national level would be implemented in the key Natura 2000 sites and a long-term commitment to continue such measures would become effective through a National Action Plan and through the publication of habitat management guidelines for the species. To this purpose a buffer zone system would be developed and implemented in co-operation with forest owners and/or managers to protect the nesting areas, leading eventually to the long-term stabilisation of currently threatened nests. Artificial nests in sensitive areas in key sites would be built where necessary. Nests would also be protected against disturbance and direct persecution by setting barriers on forest roads in key areas and diverting tourist paths. Hunters and gamekeepers would be informed about the conservation values of the species. All power lines would be checked in the key SPAs and the most dangerous (1 500 pylons) would be insulated, thus reducing mortalities caused by electrocution by 90%.
The CAPR project achieved its expected objectives ? contributing to the improvement of conservation status for the Aquila pomarina species in Romania. Importantly, the works carried out indicate very good long term sustainability and have had an important, national impact. Among the main achievements were the drafting and publication of two important documents: a National Action Plan for the species and the ?Lesser Spotted Eagle- friendly habitat management guidelines?. These are contributing to the updating of the European Action Plan for species (threats and actions), carried out in co-operation with the LIFE project for the conservation of A. pomarina in Slovakia. As planned, a buffer zone system was developed and implemented in co-operation with forest owners and/or managers in order to better protect the nesting areas. In total, 82 nests have been protected through buffer zones in three of the targeted sites. Some 116 nests have been secured, with the mounting of 101 artificial nesting platforms and 20 barriers have been constructed to limit access to sensitive areas of the forests. Also, to reduce disturbance and to protect 26 specific nesting grounds, 100 warning signs have been put up along public forest tracks. A third important area of activity concerned works to eliminate, or significantly reduce threats to the species from overhead electric cables. To this end, some 1 286 medium voltage poles were insulated, with an expected reduction by over 90% of the cases of bird kill due to electrocution. Another important achievement was to improve awareness of the importance of protecting the species both among stakeholders and the general public. Concerning stakeholders, more than 40 000 land owners have been informed about the protection of A. pomarina species in Romania and of the importance of species-friendly pastures and other management activities. Moreover meetings and awareness raising workshops were organised with over 350 stakeholders (forestry officials, local authorities, NGOs, SPA managers and custodians) across the 12 project sites. Finally, numerous communication and dissemination activities were carried out. These included the production of a documentary about the species, shown on national TV and distributed (400 DVDs) to schools, universities and nature NGOs. The project?s conservation work has also been referred to over a 200 times - in the local and national media, and also in a TV spot broadcast by 10 television stations. Furthermore, 54 information boards have been placed around the project sites and various information material has been produced and distributed for stakeholders and for schools and the general public.
Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report (see "Read more" section).