LIFE Project Cover Photo

Reduction of the human threats affecting the Bearded Vulture

Reference: LIFE13 NAT/FR/000093 | Acronym: LIFE GypHelp

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

The bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) is one of the most threatened bird species in Europe and is, as such, rated critically endangered by the IUCN. Reintroduced into the Alps in 1986, the species suffers from population fragmentation and resulting genetic isolation. In 2011, only 50 breeding pairs were left in France and 175 in Europe. Thanks to recent reintroduction efforts, the French population of the bearded vulture has increased over the last few years. The equilibrium, however, remains fragile and increased adult mortality could rapidly reverse this trend.


OBJECTIVES

The LIFE GypHelp project aimed to preserve the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) population in the French Alps by reducing anthropogenic mortality risks, particularly collisions with aerial power lines and ski resort infrastructure, and accidental poisoning, and to secure an increase in the population in the project area.


RESULTS

The LIFE GypHelp project contributed to the reduction of mortality risks for bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) and other bird species, especially birds of prey and galliformes (heavy-bodied ground-feeding birds) in the French Alps. This was achieved by:

  • Installing effective visualisation devices on 18 km of power lines (mostly medium-voltage lines), and 186 sections of ski-lift cables in 52 targeted ski resorts. The power lines covered 75% of priority sensitive areas, reducing collision risk by about 28%, while 52% of potentially dangerous ski-lift cables were equipped with bird-deterring beacons. In addition, bird-scaring rods were installed on 113 electric posts, reducing electrocution risks by 48%;
  • Developing a mapping tool, for aerial cables and bird occurrence, and helping managers of power lines and ski-lift cables in their mitigation actions;
  • Establishing links between the different eco-toxicological monitoring systems in France, highlighting the need to improve the coordination of these systems;
  • Updating knowledge on different sources of lead toxins for raptors, which proved that a large number of toxicity cases are linked to hunting, with the risk of exposure of bearded vulture estimated at 30% over a year;
  • Developing an action plan to reduce poisoning risks, in cooperation with relevant stakeholders, including the successful promotion of lead-free ammunition for hunters. This has been replicated in other regions (e.g. Cvennes within the LIFE GypConnect project) and disseminated at EU level;
  • Informing mountain users on the sensitive areas for bearded vultures and raising their awareness, which has contributed to the reduction in human disturbance.
  • Partly thanks to the project actions, the number of breeding pairs of bearded vulture increased in the project area, from 9 in 2014 to 15 in 2018. The survival rate of bearded vultures depends on area; in the heart of the Alps the survival rate is significantly higher than in peripheral areas. A recent model predicts that the core alpine population of bearded vultures will continue to increase, even if the reintroduction operations are stopped, provided that mortality does not exceed 20% (at project end it was lower). In the peripheral areas, however, the population can only increase if reintroductions continue and if mortality remains stable. Therefore, the project concluded that conservation efforts should be focused on why demographical variables(survival/reproduction rates) are lower in peripheral areas and on impThe LIFE GypHelp project contributed to the reduction of mortality risks for bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) and other bird species, especially birds of prey and galliformes (heavy-bodied ground-feeding birds) in the French Alps. This was achieved by:

  • Installing effective visualisation devices on 18 km of power lines (mostly medium-voltage lines), and 186 sections of ski-lift cables in 52 targeted ski resorts. The power lines covered 75% of priority sensitive areas, reducing collision risk by about 28%, while 52% of potentially dangerous ski-lift cables were equipped with bird-deterring beacons. In addition, bird-scaring rods were installed on 113 electric posts, reducing electrocution risks by 48%;
  • Developing a mapping tool, for aerial cables and bird occurrence, and helping managers of power lines and ski-lift cables in their mitigation actions;
  • Establishing links between the different eco-toxicological monitoring systems in France, highlighting the need to improve the coordination of these systems;
  • Updating knowledge on different sources of lead toxins for raptors, which proved that a large number of toxicity cases are linked to hunting, with the risk of exposure of bearded vulture estimated at 30% over a year;
  • Developing an action plan to reduce poisoning risks, in cooperation with relevant stakeholders, including the successful promotion of lead-free ammunition for hunters. This has been replicated in other regions (e.g. Cvennes within the LIFE GypConnect project) and disseminated at EU level;
  • Informing mountain users on the sensitive areas for bearded vultures and raising their awareness, which has contributed to the reduction in human disturbance.
  • Partly thanks to the project actions, the number of breeding pairs of bearded vulture increased in the project area, from 9 in 2014 to 15 in 2018. The survival rate of bearded vultures depends on area; in the heart of the Alps the survival rate is significantly higher than in peripheral areas. A recent model predicts that the core alpine population of bearded vultures will continue to increase, even if the reintroduction operations are stopped, provided that mortality does not exceed 20% (at project end it was lower). In the peripheral areas, however, the population can only increase if reintroductions continue and if mortality remains stable. Therefore, the project concluded that conservation efforts should be focused on why demographical variables(survival/reproduction rates) are lower in peripheral areas and on imp

    ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


    Reference: LIFE13 NAT/FR/000093
    Acronym: LIFE GypHelp
    Start Date: 01/06/2014
    End Date: 31/12/2018
    Total Budget: 1,810,276 €
    EU Contribution: 905,136 €
    Project Location:
    Project Website: http://www.asters.asso.fr

    CONTACT DETAILS


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Asters, Conservatoire d'espaces naturels Haute-Savoie
    Legal Status: NGO
    Address: P.A.E de Pr-Mairy, 84 route du Viran, 74370, PRINGY,
    Contact Person: Marie HEURET
    Email: marie.heuret@asters.asso.fr
    Tel: 33450664751
    Fax: 33450664752


    LIFE Project Map

    ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

    THEMES

    • Birds

    KEYWORDS

    • mountainous area
    • environmental impact of energy
    • endangered species

    TARGET EU LEGISLATION

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

    TARGET HABITAT TYPES

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

    SPECIES

    • Gypaetus barbatus

    NATURA 2000 SITES

    Type Code Name
    SPA FR8210032 LA VANOISE
    SPA FR8210106 MASSIF DU BARGY
    SPA FR9310035 Le Mercantour
    SCI FR8201700 HAUT GIFFRE
    SCI FR8201783 MASSIF DE LA VANOISE
    SCI FR9301559 LE MERCANTOUR
    SCI FR8201705 MASSIF DU BARGY
    SPA FR8212008 HAUT GIFFRE
    SPA FR8212006 PERRON DES ENCOMBRES
    SPA FR8212021 ROC D'ENFER
    SPA FR8212023 LES ARAVIS
    SCI FR8201701 LES ARAVIS

    BENEFICIARIES

    Name Type
    Asters, Conservatoire d'espaces naturels Haute-Savoie Coordinator
    PNM(Parc national du Mercantour), France Participant
    FDC 74(Fédération Départementale des Chasseurs de Haute Savoie), France Participant
    VCF(Stichting The Vulture Conservation Foundation), Netherlands Participant
    OGM(Association Observatoire des Galliformes de Montagne), France Participant
    PNV(Parc national de la Vanoise), France Participant

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