The red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis) is one of the most threatened goose species in the world. It is listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive and is on the Ornis Committee list of birds that are a priority for LIFE Nature funding. The species is also listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, is in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and Appendix I and II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). Wetlands are the primary habitat for this goose species, but are also identified among the most vulnerable ecosystems to climate change. Extreme flooding and drought are the drivers that can change the quality and extent of the habitat, and therefore can cause severe negative changes to populations of threatened and vulnerable species.
The objective of LIFE FOR SAFE FLIGHT is to make a major contribution to the conservation of the red-breasted goose within the EU, and also within its global migration flyway.
Specific project aims are to: Improve knowledge on the importance of specific threats to the migration ecology and current distribution of the red-breasted goose; Implement a set of conservation measures to reduce direct and indirect mortality from hunting and disturbance in Bulgaria project sites and along the global flyway; Engage stakeholders to develop management practices for red-breasted goose conservation at key sites to enhance conditions for the species; Ensure engagement of communities and stakeholders to enhance community pride in and support for the conservation of red-breasted goose, and the Natura 2000 network generally; and Assess the effects of the implementation of the international species action plan on the species’ status, by developing a comprehensive monitoring system in all range countries along the flyway.
The implemented actions on the project will serve as mitigation measures to partly compensate the threats and problems arising from increased incidents of drought in Central Asia and other parts of the migratory flyway of the species. The project is a major contribution to the implementation of the AEWA/EC international species action plan (SAP) for the red-breasted goose.
Expected results: Increased knowledge on key areas and threats for the species; Red-breasted geese (30 individuals) tracked by satellite tags to provide survival data and reveal the importance of the major threats to guide future conservation measures; Data on hunting pressure and poaching activities systematically collected following common methodology; Improved knowledge of the distribution of the species and the key concentration areas to help plan conservation actions directed to maintaining the population at a favourable level; Population data for the species on a global level collected over three winter seasons to allow BirdLife International and IUCN to reassess the conservation and threat status of the species; National action plans for the red-breasted goose in Romania and Kazakhstan developed; Creation of a 200 ha buffer zone of managed grassland as geese feeding habitat at a key bottleneck site for the species (Manych Gudilo Lake) to reduce mortality during the spring migration in Russia; Reduced red-breasted goose mortality during the spring hunting season in Russia by closing/regulating hunting in three regions of the Russian Federation and introducing temporary reserve areas and rest zones at key staging sites during peak migration; Less disturbance of staging flocks of red-breasted goose in Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine by introducing new patrol schemes; Reduced disturbance and killing of the species during migration in Kazkahstan through the introduction of new zonation in key staging sites and new management techniques, creating conditions to attract migrating geese for staging on over 90 000 ha; Reduced collision with powerlines in Bulgaria through installation of bird diverters along four km power-lines in key areas for the red-breasted goose in Bulgaria; and At least 30 experts and managers trained on innovative approaches for sustainable harvesting of water birds and mitigation of hunting pressure through a set of three workshops in Bulgaria, Romania and Kazakhstan.