LIFE Project Cover Photo

Conservation of Falco cherrug in Northeast Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia

Reference: LIFE09 NAT/HU/000384 | Acronym: Falco cherrug B-H-R-S

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

The Saker falcon (Falco cherrug) is a globally threatened species that is listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive. Hungary and Slovakia are home to some 47% of the European population (c. 450 pairs). Thanks to EU financial support, this population has stabilised and is increasing; while the European and global population is still decreasing. Roaming behaviour of juvenile falcons has been mapped to reveal a very wide catchment, ranging from Spain to Kazakhstan. Monitoring indicates that the young birds spend more time in Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia where there are more, less densely-populated, suitable habitats. These habitats can be potential expansion areas for the core population, if enough suitable nesting places are available and if threats are addressed.


OBJECTIVES

The Falco cherrug B-H-R-S project aimed to stabilise and further strengthen the core European populations of the Saker falcon by implementing best practices for conserving the species in Bulgaria and Romania. The earlier LIFE Nature project Falco cherrug-Hu/SK (LIFE06 NAT/H/000096) provided important new information about the risks, survival rate, migration and roaming patterns of juveniles. This knowledge and experience was transferred from the Hungarian and Slovak partners of that project to the Bulgarian and Romanian partners. In addition, the project sought to eliminate threats in the falcon's core area to further strengthen its conservation status.


RESULTS

The Falco cherrug B-H-R-S project directly benefitted the Birds Directive Annex I Saker falcon (Falco cherrug) population in Central Europe through a series of concrete conservation actions. The project significantly increased nesting and feeding opportunities, with the installation of 150 artificial nests. Five colonies of the prey species ground squirrel (Spermophillus citellus) were successful establishment and monitoring (e.g. using ear tags that could be identified in bird nests). A total of 8 916 electric pylons were effectively made bird-safe, with the project team establishing a good cooperative partnership with electric companies in all project countries; effectively stimulating the companies to conduct their own conservation activities. In addition, special cages were built in which to keep injured birds, which could also be used to breed birds: two cages in the MILVUS rehabilitation centre in Romania and two cages at Bratislava Zoo in Slovakia.

The project developed guidelines for subsidies and management of habitats of the Saker falcon and its prey species the ground squirrel. These were used to improve agri-environmental schemes in Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia, which should positively impact on the quality of falcon habitats in the future. The guideline about the effect of wind farms on the Saker falcon can be used by authorities to evaluate any future wind farm plans and avoid their development in key falcon habitats. The results of the prey survey provided a well-based argument for discussion between nature conservationists and hunters and pigeon keepers about the extent of the impact of Saker falcon on species of economic interest. The survey confirmed that the falcon's prey comprises a high proportion of small mammals like ground squirrels (while pigeons make only 25-50% and hares 4-6% of the prey), while several factors influence yearly fluctuation of the prey composition of the Saker falcon (e.g. weather, habitat management).

The project initiated the development of three new types of bird-safe cross-arms, i.e. heads of electric pylons that carry wires under voltage. These innovative designs were used in Hungary, and were introduced to the Slovak electric company’s representatives. These cross-arms represent a more durable alternative to insulation of old pylon heads,​ ​at a cost​​ compar​able​ to the previously-used plastic ​insulation covers.

The project’s use of satellite transmitters on falcons allowed 3D visualisation of their flight trajectories and revealed that they vertically avoid (fly over) areas with wind turbines, which means that they cannot use them as prey-source habitats. Falcons were fitted with PTT satellite transmitters before fledging (19 birds in the four project countries). The migration data obtained from the satellite transmitters helped in understanding the dynamics of the Saker falcon population and contributed to the Global Action Plan for Saker falcon adopted under the Convention on Migratory Species in 2014. The methods for assessing subsidies and management practices in Saker falcon and the ground squirrel habitats, developed in Hungary, were successfully applied to Romania and Bulgaria, together with further conservation, monitoring and dissemination project actions (e.g. nest box installation, ground squirrel repatriation, insulation of electric pylons, satellite and video monitoring, questionnaires, dissemination materials). A significant demonstration effect was achieved by analysis of the wind farm impact on the Saker falcon population and the developed guideline to avoid conflicts.

The project’s broad dissemination campaign improved public awareness about the Saker falcon and related topics. This campaign included a website, information boards at project sites, a 25-minute documentary film, leaflets, and the layman’s report.

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: LIFE09 NAT/HU/000384
Acronym: Falco cherrug B-H-R-S
Start Date: 01/10/2010
End Date: 31/12/2014
Total Budget: 4,032,828 €
EU Contribution: 3,006,470 €
Project Location:

CONTACT DETAILS


Coordinating Beneficiary: Bükk National Park Directorate
Legal Status: PAT
Address: Sánc u. 6, P.O. Box 116, 3304, Eger, Hungary Magyarország
Contact Person: Ákos HORVÁTH
Email: fidlojo@gmail.com;
Tel: +36 30 3495664
Website:


LIFE Project Map

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

THEMES

  • Birds

KEYWORDS

  • natural park
  • nature conservation
  • endangered species

TARGET EU LEGISLATION

  • Directive 79/409 - Conservation of wild birds (02.04.1979)
  • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020” (03.05.2011)
  • Directive 2009/147 - Conservation of wild birds - Birds Directive (codified version of Directive 79/409/EEC as amended) (30.11.2009)
  • Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals - CMS (01/11/1983)

TARGET HABITAT TYPES

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

SPECIES

  • Falco cherrug

NATURA 2000 SITES

Type Code Name
SPA SKCHVU012 Lehnice
SPA SKCHVU014 Malé Karpaty
SPA SKCHVU016 Záhorské Pomoravie
SPA SKCHVU017 Muránska planina- Stolica
SPA SKCHVU019 Ostrovné lúky
SPA SKCHVU023 Úľanská mokraď
SPA HUDD10008 Belső-Somogy
SPA HUKN10002 Kiskunsági szikes tavak és az őrjegi turjánvidék
SPA BG0000156 Shablenski ezeren kompleks
SPA BG0002039 Harsovska Reka
SPA BG0002048 Suha Reka
SPA BG0002050 Durankulashko ezero
SPA BG0002051 Kaliakra
SPA BG0002082 Batova
SPA ROSPA0067 Lunca Barcăului
SCI ROSCI0039 Ciuperceni - Desa
SCI ROSCI0045 Coridorul Jiului
SCI ROSCI0186 Pădurile de Stejar Pufos de pe Târnava Mare
SPA ROSPA0011 Blahniţa
SPA ROSPA0013 Calafat - Ciuperceni - Dunăre
SPA ROSPA0014 Câmpia Cermeiului
SPA ROSPA0015 Câmpia Crişului Alb şi Crişului Negru
SPA ROSPA0016 Câmpia Nirului - Valea Ierului
SPA ROSPA0023 Confluenţa Jiu - Dunăre
SPA ROSPA0046 Gruia - Gârla Mare
SPA ROSPA0047 Hunedoara Timişană
SPA ROSPA0069 Lunca Mureşului Inferior
SPA ROSPA0095 Pădurea Macedonia
SPA ROSPA0097 Pescăria Cefa - Pădurea Rădvani
SPA ROSPA0103 Valea Alceului
SPA ROSPA0106 Valea Oltului Inferior

BENEFICIARIES

Name Type
Bükk National Park Directorate Coordinator
Kiskunság National Park Directorate, Hungary Participant
Körő-Maros National Park Directorate, Hungary Participant
MME/BirdLife Hungary Participant
Zöld Folyosó Közalapítvány, Hungary Participant
Pro Vértes Nonprofit Zrt., Hungary Participant
MAVÍR Zrt., Hungary Participant
ELMŰ-ÉMÁSZ, Hungary Participant
DÉMÁSZ Hálózati Elosztó Kft., Hungary Participant
Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, Bulgaria Participant
Association MILVUS Group, Romania Participant
Romanian Ornithological Society/BirdLife Romania Participant
Raptor Protection of Slovakia Participant
Západoslovenská energetika a.s., Slovakia Participant