LIFE Project Cover Photo

Transnational conservation of birds along Danube river

Reference: LIFE19 NAT/SK/001023 | Acronym: LIFE DANUBE FREE SKY



With its riparian zones and riverine habitats, the Danube forms an ecological network and is one of the main bio-corridors in Europe. The Danube corridor and its adjacent areas attract hundreds of bird species. Every year millions of birds follow the Danube on their spring and autumn odysseys to and from distant migration sites. However, many of these species have undergone dramatic declines in recent decades. Bird mortality caused by power lines and other electric utility structures has been documented for over 380 species, with critically endangered andthreatened bird species among these. Over 2 000 km of eight types of above-ground power lines that are dangerous for birds can be found within the LIFE DanubeFreeSky project area, including electric railway infrastructure. These represent a considerable threat for wintering and breeding populations of the target bird species. The majority of birds are killed by only a portion of the potentially dangerous lines, which need to be identified and dealt with by the energy companies responsible. A transnational approach is necessary to achieve adequate results.


The main goal of the LIFE DANUBE FREE SKY project is to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services along the Danube river. It aims to achieve this through the following specific objectives:

  • Reduce bird mortality on power lines within 23 Special Protection Areas (SPA) and 9 Important Bird Areas (IBA), and increase the population of 12 target species, by installing flight diverters and insulating dangerous poles on power linesand railways (avoiding around 1 200-2 200 deaths every year); and
  • Start/strengthen cooperation and increase the efficiency of adopted measures at transnational level by key stakeholders in the area.
  • The project will contribute to implementation of related EU environmental policy and strategies, including EU macro regional strategies for the Danube, Alpine, and Adriatic and Ionian regions (EUSDR, EUSALP and EUSAIR).


    Expected results:

  • Increased populations of target bird species in the project area by 2025 as follow: - Lesser white-fronted goose: by 16 wintering individuals to a total of 60; - Imperial eagle: by 4-7 breeding pairs to 13-17; - Great bittern: by 170 breeding pairs to 220 ; - Red-breasted goose: by 2 000 wintering individuals to 5 000; - Greater spotted eagle: by 8 wintering individuals to 37; - Lesser spotted eagle: by 3-9 breeding pairs to 17-25; - Corncrake: by 139 breeding pairs to 265; - Saker falcon: by 5-9 breeding pairs to 34; - Great bustard: by 20-30 breeding attempts in Hungary to 485; - European roller: by about 70 breeding pairs to 610-840; - Red-footed falcon: by about 50-60 breeding pairs to 347-414; and - Dalmatian pelican: by at least 30 breeding pairs to 210-300, recovering the breeding population in Bulgaria;(/li>
  • Increased visibility on almost 250 km of top-priority power lines;
  • Almost 3 300 poles insulated to protect birds from electrocution, including on railways;
  • More than 10 ha transformed from arable land into pastures in Slovakia, increasing the presence of priority bird species by at least 30%;
  • Digitised network of medium-voltage power lines in Serbia;
  • 20 alternative nesting opportunities for saker falcon, 300 for European roller and 50 for red-footed falcon;
  • First conflict map of priority areas for bird protection prepared for the Danube region, available to relevant energy companies and railways;
  • First international GIS online database established for the Danube region;
  • Guidance document for mitigating the negative impact of power lines; and
  • Improved coherence of the Natura 2000 network from a transboundary perspective.

    Reference: LIFE19 NAT/SK/001023
    Start Date: 01/09/2020
    End Date: 28/02/2026
    Total Budget: 6,636,170 €
    EU Contribution: 4,977,125 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Raptor Protection of Slovakia
    Legal Status: PNC
    Address: Trhov 54, 84101, Bratislava, Slovakia Slovensko
    Contact Person: Lucia Deutschova
    Tel: 421903219524

    LIFE Project Map



    • Birds


    • migratory species
    • energy supply
    • electrical industry


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


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


    • Pelecanus crispus
    • Otis tarda
    • Falco vespertinus
    • Falco cherrug
    • Crex crex
    • Coracias garrulus
    • Branta ruficollis
    • Botaurus stellaris
    • Aquila heliaca
    • Anser erythropus


    • ACCIPITRIDAE Clanga clanga
    • ACCIPITRIDAE Clanga pomarina


    Type Code Name
    SPA SKCHVU005 Dolné Považie (DEPRECATED)
    SPA SKCHVU014 Malé Karpaty (DEPRECATED)
    SPA SKCHVU016 Záhorské Pomoravie (DEPRECATED)
    SPA SKCHVU019 Ostrovné lúky (DEPRECATED)
    SPA SKCHVU029 Sysľovské polia (DEPRECATED)
    SPA HUFH10004 Mosoni-sík (DEPRECATED)
    SPA HUFH30004 Szigetköz (DEPRECATED)
    SPA HUFH30005 Hanság (DEPRECATED)
    SPA HUKN10001 Felső-kiskunsági szikes puszták és turjánvidék (DEPRECATED)
    SCI BG0000182 Orsoya (DEPRECATED)
    SCI BG0000239 Obnova - Karaman dol (DEPRECATED)
    SPA BG0000240 Studenets (DEPRECATED)
    SCI BG0000396 Persina (DEPRECATED)
    SPA BG0000332 Karlukovski Karst (DEPRECATED)
    SPA BG0002006 Ribarnitsi Orsoya (DEPRECATED)
    SPA BG0002009 Zlatiyata (DEPRECATED)
    SPA BG0002017 Kompleks Belenski ostrovi (DEPRECATED)
    SPA BG0002074 Nikopolsko plato (DEPRECATED)
    SPA BG0002083 Svishtovsko-Belenska nizina (DEPRECATED)
    SPA BG0002096 Obnova (DEPRECATED)
    SPA BG0002102 Devetashko plato (DEPRECATED)
    SPA BG0002104 Tsibarsko blato (DEPRECATED)
    SPA ROSPA0031 Delta Dunării şi Complexul Razim - Sinoie (DEPRECATED)
    SPA HR1000016 Podunavlje i donje Podravlje (DEPRECATED)


    Name Type
    OEBB_AT(ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG (sub-group of the Austrian Federal Railway)), Austria Participant
    NPDA_AT(Nationalpark Donau-Auen GmbH), Austria Participant
    BSPB_BG(Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds), Bulgaria Participant
    CEZD_BG(CEZ Distribution Bulgaria AD), Bulgaria Participant
    MAVIR_HU(MAVIR Magyar Villamosenergia-ipari Átviteli Rendszerirányító Zártkörűen Működő Részvénytársaság), Hungary Participant
    DDBRA_RO(Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority), Romania Participant
    BPSSS_RS(Društvo za zaštitu i proučavanje ptica Srbije), Serbia Participant
    ZSD_SK(Západoslovenská distribučná, a.s.), Slovakia Participant
    SEPS_SK(Slovenská elektrizačná prenosová sústava, a. s.), Slovakia Participant
    HEP_HR(HEP - Distribution system operator d.o.o.), Croatia Participant
    HOPS_HR(Hrvatski operator prijenosnog sustava d.o.o.), Croatia Participant
    JUPPKR_HR(Public Institution Nature Park Kopacki rit), Croatia Participant
    EPS_RS(Operator distributivnog sistema „EPS Distribucija“ d.o.o.), Serbia Participant
    EDD_RO(E-DISTRIBUTIE DOBROGEA S.A.), Romania Participant