The hermit beetle (Osmoderma eremita), which is listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive and Annex II of the Bern Convention, is a near threatened species in Europe. It is restricted to old-growth (primary-, primeval- or virgin forest) forests as it inhabits decaying tree hollows, notably old oaks and also other deciduous hardwood trees, so any activities that destroy such trees (e.g. stand-replacing disturbance) are strongly detrimental to the species. The main overall threat is likely to be degradation or loss of habitat quality, involving the removal of the older dead and dying trees from forest/ woodland areas. There are three habitat types in Lithuania related to the hermit beetle.
The LIFE OSMODERMA project aims to: To develop a cross-border Lithuania-Latvia ecological network plan and identify the functional ecological network for the beetle and other saproxylic invertebrates (dependent on dead or decaying wood) from Kaunas oak forest to the slope of the Neris river by Verkiai; To prepare the necessary documentation for implementation of practical conservation actions in the area of the ecological network and ensure long-term conservation of restored habitat sites; To prepare a methodology for reintroduction of the beetle and to restore a viable population; To create favourable conditions for the hermit beetle and other saproxylics in core project areas by suitable management of the areas of old-growth forests/woodlands, creation of migratory corridors and eradication of alien species; To create stepping stones between these project areas and other potential areas, or creation of temporary artificial habitats; To improve monitoring techniques and equipment; To raise public awareness on the importance of these older, hardwood tree species for biodiversity conservation, socioeconomic impacts and ecosystem functions; and To share knowledge about conservation strategies for the beetle species and practical experience on habitat restoration among experts, and ensure the transfer and replicability of the project methods.
Expected results: A cross-border Lithuanian-Latvian ecological network plan; Identification of an ecological network for the target species and other saproxylics between Kaunas and Vilnius; Preparation of (two) management plans for Kaunas oak forest and for the slope of the Neris river by Verkiai; Guidelines on management of old-growth trees and deadwood for three Natura 2000 sites; A methodology for reintroduction of the beetle species; Installation of ‘smart pheromone traps’ (e.g. to limit pest populations); Restoration and management of 300-400 old-growth trees and other valuable older trees/deadwood; Elimination of invasive alien species on a total of 12 ha; Creation of dispersal corridors for the beetle species and control of invasive species inside core zones on a total area of 10 ha; Restoration of at least one viable hermit beetle population; Assessment of direct or indirect employment growth and raising the profile of the project area; Assessment of the project's impact on the ecosystem functions and of seven ecosystem services; and Various awareness raising activities.