Identification of breeding grounds and nesting sites in them.
This activity aims to identify all existing breeding grounds within the 16 NATURA 2000 areas included in the project, together with breeding grounds in their vicinity. Lesser Spotted Eagles nest mainly in broadleaf and coniferous forests far from human presence and settlements. Eagles often use nests of other raptor species and vice versa, so the detailed mapping of their nests is of utmost importance. The threats and the types of habitats in the vicinity of existing nests will also be mapped in detail.
Identification of temporary settlement areas and of stop-over and roosting sites.
The activity aims to determine territories of importance for the Lesser Spotted Eagle, namely temporary settlement areas (stop-over and roosting sites) during migration. More than 50% of the global population of the Lesser Spotted Eagle migrates along the Via Pontica flyway which passes through Bulgaria. Numerous individuals stop to rest or roost on the territory of the country. In some cases migrating eagles also stop to feed in Bulgaria, and can linger in the country for days. The territories important for the species in such cases will be determined by an analysis of satellite data from eagles tagged in the northern area of the species (the Baltic countries, Poland, Germany, Romania). All sites used by the Lesser Spotted Eagle for resting, roosting or feeding during migration will be visited in the field. Data will be gathered with regard to the threats in the area; the habitats will be listed in detail. Consequently the collected data will be analyzed for the identification of key sites used by the eagles during migration.
Research on the impact of forest management activities on the Lesser Spotted Eagle and establishing of limiting factors.
Species survival depends greatly on the qualities of the habitats in which they live; some species are closely associated with certain features of the habitat. Such is the case of the population of the Lesser Spotted Eagle, which is especially vulnerable in its breeding grounds. Obviously, logging activities in an area where there are nesting eagles – and even more so the felling of a tree with a nest on it – cause direct disturbance for the birds; this can be particularly harmful during the breeding season. In addition, other forest management activities – which are not that obvious – could also have a negative impact on the Lesser Spotted Eagle. In order to protect the population of the Lesser Spotted Eagle we need to establish which these activities are and to outline the appropriate management for the territories inhabited by the species.
We will localize past and present breeding grounds of the Lesser Spotted Eagle. We will collect data about the forest management activities carried out there in the last 20 years in order to analyze the resulting features of the forest. Further research will be carried out on the territories of three strictly protected forest reserves, where conditions are presumably the best for the Lesser Spotted Eagle. It will enable us to determine the number and density of the species in areas with the best conditions.
Development of a Habitat Distribution Model for the Lesser Spotted Eagle in Bulgaria.
We are currently working on a Habitat Distribution Model for the Lesser Spotted Eagle through the generation of empirical models for the quantitative dimensions of the correlation species – environment.
We will make assumptions about the potential presence of the Lesser Spotted Eagle on the territory of Bulgaria based on the collected data about the species distribution. According to present data and research the typical habitat of the Lesser Spotted Eagle consists of sites in the vicinity of river valleys, pastures, meadows, wetlands, groups of trees along rivers, broadleaf forests, and mixed riparian forests on altitudes ranging from 0 to 1500 m above sea level. By identifying the features of the habitat which are important for the species, i.e. its ecological requirements, we will be able to produce a map of its potential distribution on one hand, and to reveal to what extent it is adaptable to changes in the environment on the other.
Pilot implementation of a GIS-model for maximum precision in forest planning.
We assess possibilities for the integration of new geospatial technologies with the acting forest inventory techniques, aimed at an enhanced precision in forest planning and creating a stable base for a more sustainable management of the habitat of the Lesser Spotted Eagle.
Remote sensing data and information collected through traditional on-site techniques will improve our understanding of habitat distribution. As a result we will be able to create a more detailed and relevant data base for forest management projects; this data base will improve the decision-making process with regards to the sustainable use of resources and the conservation of nature.
Assessment of key stakeholders’ potential for the implementation of innovative forest management practices.
We assess to what extent stakeholders from the forest management sector are prone to implementing activities related to biodiversity conservation, as well as their stand on the necessity of such activities. An improved in-depth knowledge of the views and opinions of stakeholders from the forestry sector is a condition for a successful long-term conservation of forests. The results from the interviews with stakeholders will provide valuable information for the drafting of project communication strategies and of the activities for raising public awareness on the topic.