LIFE FOR EAGLE’S HABITATS PROJECT

The current project is a continuation of the Eagle’s Forests project, successfully accomplished in 2019, and an extension of the efforts of the Executive Forest Agency and the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds to protect the Lesser Spotted Eagle and its most important habitats in Bulgaria.

Its main objective is the long-term preservation of the Lesser Spotted Eagle population by securing the protection and sustainable management of the species’ nesting and foraging habitats, as well as the creation of new ones. The project will be implemented on the territory of twenty Special Protection Areas of the Natura 2000 network in Eastern Bulgaria.

The SouthEastern State Company – Sliven and NorthEastern State Comapny – Shumen joined forces with the two partners.

The funding is provided by the LIFE programme of the European Union for a duration of 5 years starting on 02.08.2020.

Specific objectives

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improve knowledge

on Lesser Spotted Eagle and its habitats in Bulgaria and establish profound basis for the long term conservation of the species by applying innovative research technics;

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maintain and enhance

feeding, breeding and roosting LSE habitats through developing and deploying best available practices for management of forests, open territories in forests and agricultural lands;

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restore and create

new feeding and breeding habitats for the Lesser Spotted Eagle;

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improve LSE conservation

on regional level by introducing pilot tool for involvement of all stakeholders in the process of setting of forest management and protection priorities;

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identify and combat

main threats affecting the Lesser Spotted Eagle;

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enhance public understanding of

and support for the conservation of priority bird species, their habitats and the wider Natura 2000 sites that are crucial for their long-term protection.

MAIN ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE LIFE FOR EAGLE’S FORESTS PROJECT

 Over the last six years we succeeded in localizing 77 Lesser Spotted Eagle active nests in 16 key Natura 2000 sites in South East Bulgaria. Aiming to integrate the needs of biodiversity when planning and carrying out of forestry economic activities, we worked on changes of the national forestry legislation, and, in particular, on the Regulation on Inventory and Planning of Forest Areas. A Method for measurement of the quantity and characteristics of the deadwood and biotope trees in the forest ecosystems was approved and attached to this regulation. More than one third of the species in Europe’s forests depend on old and dead trees for their survival. We inventoried more than 133,000 ha of forests important as nesting habitats of the Lesser Spotted Eagle on a pilot basis, and have secured their sustainable management. Our inventory included some additional biodiversity studies in four territorial units of the South Eastern State Company and of the South-Central State Company —the Svilengrad and the Tsarevo State Forest Enterprises, the Gramatikovo State Hunting Enterprise, and the Krumovgrad State Forest Enterprise.

We have developed a National Action Plan for the Lesser Spotted Eagle (Clanga pomarina) in Bulgaria for the 2019 – 2028 period. Implementation of this plan during the next 10 years will enable a security status of Bulgaria’s Lesser Spotted Eagle population, with 750–800 nesting pairs and protection of the individuals migrating through the country.

Encouraging alternative uses of the forests as habitats of the Lesser Spotted Eagle, production of non-timber forest products is one model for developing alternative revenue generation for forest enterprises and respectively change in the way forests are managed. We supported on a pilot basis the Kosti State Forest Enterprise to extend its honeydew honey production and apiary activities using the unique Strandzha forest characteristics. The Kosti State Forest Enterprise has become a good example in Bulgaria of increasing revenue by diversifying non-timber forest products – products with organic origin other than wood, derived from forests.

We created forest-ecology advisory services in the sixteen regional forestry directorates throughout Bulgaria and in Sofia. They provide free access for all forest owners to advice and information on forest-ecology measures and their implementation in their region, forest conservation and management advice, information about the required documents and permits and about the possibility to apply to EU programs and instruments, etc.

We have increased the capacity of the institutions responsible for the conservation and management of forests by organizing more than 30 training sessions with more than 500 participants on current topics, including the use of electronic species-monitoring applications, innovative forest management practices (such as the so-called Saarland felling method to produce high-quality timber), prevention of threats and crimes against the Lesser Spotted Eagle and other protected species, etc. One important component of the project was working with young people – the future forestry experts. For those we have developed a course of lectures on biodiversity conservation forestry practices, to be included into the University of Forestry curriculum.

Preventing illegal prosecution of the Lesser Spotted Eagle and fight with wildlife crimes was another key project activity. For five consecutive years, we have been conducting the “I Protect the Forest and Eagles of Bulgaria” campaign successfully, aiming to bring crimes against wildlife in the public space. Fifty-six persons were awarded in its five editions. The campaign distinguished good practices in combatting crimes against wildlife and focused the public attention onto the issue. The awards were an incentive for the participants’ good work and showed them that their efforts matter.