|Aquatic Warbler conservation and bioenergy production in Poland
The Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola) was once widespread on the fen mires of continental Europe. However, in the 20th century most of the sites were drained, and the Aquatic Warbler and many other species have lost their habitat. Now the species’ range is limited mainly to Poland, Belarus and Ukraine. It is estimated that there are about 3200 singing male Aquatic Warblers in Poland, which represents 24% of the global population of this species.
A key problem for the conservation of Aquatic Warbler habitat is the lack of long term funding for basic measures such as the regular mowing of biomass. To address this, OTOP/BirdLife Partner in Poland is carrying out the project “Facilitating Aquatic Warbler habitat management through sustainable systems of biomass use” that is co-funded by the EU’s LIFE programme. By briquetting and pelleting of harvested biomass, sold on the market, the project will generate a stable income for future conservation activities.
The project started in September 2010 and will run until the end of August 2014, with a budget of about 3.7 Million Euro.
Integrated funding for nature protection in South-West France
Midi-Pyrénées in the South-West of France is a region of rich landscapes and biodiversity, however affected by residual pollution in air and water. The region has been less intensively farmed (except the extensive plain around Toulouse) than the lowland areas of France, but its habitats are under threat.
The 2000–2006 EU Structural Funds Objective 2 programme for the region includes a measure “to conserve and evaluate the natural and landscape heritage of the Midi-Pyrénées” (sub-measure 13.5) identifying the need for a higher awareness of the necessity of species and habitat protection alongside the economic exploitation of resources.
This enabled LPO Aveyron, member of the LPO/BirdLife France network, to undertake a range of projects using the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding. Examples included studying bird migration near potential wind farm locations and information for the successful management of this species. The benefits were shared.
In 2005, LPO Aveyron began to work in collaboration with four national farmers’ networks (ADASEA, APABA, CIVAM and FARRE) to develop an experimental scheme to restore biodiversity and improve the agricultural landscape in Aveyron. Twelve farmers (mostly involved in meat and milk stock breeding, polyculture and honey production) participated in a variety of activities aimed to enhance habitats for rare species such as Scop’s Owl, Hoopoe, Red-backed Shrike, Salamander and Natterjack Toads. Other common species that are in decline, also benefited from this work. The farmers were asked, for example, to avoid spraying field margins with herbicide to allow wild flowers to grow alongside arable crops and were encouraged not to drain bog habitats. Grazing these areas during the dry season reduces the need to buy hay which is advantageous, particularly as droughts become more frequent and prolonged as the climate changes. In 2005, this delivered an estimated benefit of 150 Euro/ha.
The interesting feature of this project was the opportunity it provided for farmers and environmentalists to work together, exchanging knowledge in order to find simple, inexpensive but effective solutions. These were then publicised in a leaflet informing farmers what they can do and where they can get more information. The leaflet was distributed by farmers’ networks and via a farmers’ magazine (La Volonté Paysanne) to more than 10,000 farmers in Aveyron. This project took place over 17 months with a total budget of 50,000 Euro, of which 18,620 Euro was co-financed by the EU Structural Funds (ERDF).An important aspect of the project was to look for follow-up funds to implement the proposed management measures selected by each farmer. (for more details see chart below).
The partnership between a nature protection NGO and farmers from the networks mentioned above, led to a pooling of ecological and agricultural knowledge, but also enabled various funding sources to be accessed to implement the proposed management measures.
OTOP (BirdLife partner in Poland)
Dariusz Gatkowski, Dariusz.Gatkowski(at)otop.org.pl
Ligue pour le protection des oiseaux, LPO (BirdLife partner in France)
Alison Duncan, Alison.Duncan(at)lpo.fr