Assessment of the effects of current agricultural subsidies and related habitat management practices on F. cherrug’s habitat in Bulgaria and Romania applying the Hungarian - Slovak methods.

Different land use types even the common agriculture areas can be important habitat for F. cherrug if they are managed properly to provide enough food. This action is dealing with the F. cherrug friendly habitat management of these areas and the agri-environment subsidies of it. The project will elaborate a recommendation for the adjustment of the agri-environment subsidy system for the benefit of F. cherrug in the different habitat.



Elaboration of habitat management guideline for grasslands and proposal for appropriate subsidies to stimulate proper farming on the protected S. citellushabitats using the Hungarian – Slovak method as the result of former LIFE project

The souslik (Spermophilus citellus) is one of the most preferred preys of F. cherrug which has a very specific habitat demand. It needs short grazed grassland. This action is dealing with the F. cherrug friendly

habitat management of these areas and the agri-environment subsidies of it. The project will elaborate a recommendation for the adjustment of the agri-environment subsidy system for the benefit of F. cherrug in the different habitat and of S. citellus in the grasslands.



Preparing guideline about the effect of wind farms on F. cherrug population for authorities evaluating wind farm’s applications

Wind farm is considered as an unlimited clean energy sources, therefore more and more are planned and established in all project-targeted counties. There are some data in the literatures about killed birds; however, there is any exact data about the wind farms’ effect neither on theF. cherrug breeding population nor on the roaming juveniles. Nature conservation authorities lack of any data, documents or experiences to decide correctly about the location of the new wind farms around F.cherrug habitats.

Adult males and some juveniles from the nests around the existing wind farms will be tagged by PTT to check the birds’ movements around the wind farms and the effects of wind farms on the birds. A F. cherrug family may be tagged also in some designated area for wind farm development. A guideline for the nature conservation authorities will be prepared what they can use to evaluate application for wind farm establishment.



Identifying of prey assortment using of video camera and photo traps at nests

In Hungary one video camera will be installed in one of the intensively studied pilot area of the former LIFE project to record the life a F. cherrug family. The records will be evaluated to identify prey species. The live video will be seen on the project web page also (D4). Out of the video camera, 16 photo traps will also be installed in Hungary to record the prey species brought to the nest by the adult male.

In Romania three photo traps will be installed in three of the existing nests in Northern Dobrogea and the records will be evaluated to identify prey species. All three nests are endangered and will be monitored partly with the same equipment under the action C6.

In Slovakia one video camera will be installed in the nest situated in site intensively studied within the LIFE06 NAT/H/000096. The record will be evaluated to determine the prey species and the results will be compared to the results gained within the LIFE06 NAT/H/000096 during the monitoring of species. It will be also possible to compare the results from the food remains analysis with the record to know how much of the food remains can be found in the nest after the breeding period. 2 photo traps will be installed in the nests to recognise the prey as well as to be able to identify the reason in case of unsuccessful breeding. The results of the recordings analysis from the camera in Slovakia and Hungary will be compared.



Implement, promote and enforce the agri-environment scheme for Spermophilus citellus

A specific agri-environmental scheme for S. citellus will be implemented. The management under the scheme will be carried out in two SPAs where the S. citellus will be released within the Action C3. Agriculture land will be managed by the local farmers according to the proposed agri-environment scheme. The details of the scheme will be agreed with respective farmers and a contract between the farmers and RPS will be signed. The implementation of the scheme will be regularly monitored and discussed with farmers. The farmers will receive financial incentives for income foregone calculated based on the results of the LIFE06 NAT/H/000096 for the implementation of the scheme. These incentives will cover those costs only what the existing agriculture or agri-environment subsidies are not compensating.



Production and installation of nest boxes in Bulgaria and Romania according to the Hungarian experience

The best places to introduce nest boxes will be selected carefully in Bulgaria and Romania with the assistant of Hungarian partners. Two different types of artificial nest will be produced and installed subject to the nest site according to the designs of MME/BirdLife Hungary. These types of nest boxes were designed and applied successfully in the frame of LIFE06 NAT/H/000096 project.

Nest boxes will be placed in potential F. cherrug habitats where either prey is abundant but lack of nesting site prevent nesting or S. citellus will be repatriated (C3). Priority will be given for those areas where nesting place are lacking on places already known and identified during the project.

In Romania the installation of the artificial nests will be carried out by raptor specialists from the project staff, who got experience in this kind of activities.



Repatriation of S. citellus on Natura 2000 habitats where it is missing in Hungary, Slovakia (using ear-tags) and Romania based on the Hungarian & Slovak experience

Guidelines prepared within the LIFE03 NAT/SK/000098 and used within LIFE06 NAT/H/000096 project will be distributed among partners and used. It will be carried out in the spring or in the summer. First, the potential habitats, the grazed grasslands will be selected then the most suitable parts of the selected areas will be identified and a 5 cm diameter and 50 cm deep hole will be drilled in a 5-5 m network and fenced around by mesh. Then S. citellus will be caught by traps in the selected area. About 50-100 animals will be carried in individual cages to the prepared new habitat. They will be released into the drilled or abandoned holes and guarded for a week.



Locate and insulate dangerous electric pylons

The most dangerous 20 - 30kV electric pylons at breeding and foraging sites of F. cherrug will be insulated in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. A baseline survey will be done in advance to survey the killed birds and identify the dangerous pylons what have to be insulated there.



Keeping and breeding of injured birds and repatriation of juveniles

Based on the experience gained during the LIFE06 NAT/H/000096 project in Hungary special cages will be built to keep and if possible breed injured birds in Romania and Slovakia with the assistance of MME.



Guarding of endangered nests by photo traps and video cameras in Romania and Slovakia

Endangered natural breeding sites where either human disturbance or intentional destruction, e.g. by hunters might risk the success of breeding will be guarded during the breeding period. In case of possible accidental human disturbance, guarding is needed only during the most sensitive part of the breeding, for 5-6 weeks. In case of possible intentional disturbance like destroying nest by hunters etc., it would take 10-11 weeks. Endangered nests will be guarded by video camera and/or photo traps. Video camera and GSM guarding system will be installed near to the nest in a way that the surroundings of the nest can be monitored in an all-weather and always staffed place in a distinct distance from the nest. The nest camera is providing non-stop broadcast, in case of disturbance even at night. Thanks to GSM system, the alarm is promptly reported in case the sensors are interrupted. The guardians have possibility to listen any time what is happening on the nest.

Photo-traps used in (A4) will be installed at nest site in a way that in case of any movement at the nest it would take some documentary picture from the intruder. In case of intentional disturbance, police would be alerted.



Marking juveniles with PTT to collect migratory and immigration data

Four juveniles will be tagged by satellite transmitter before fledging for collecting migratory and roaming data in Romania. Collected data will be used for identifying important areas for Sakers in Romania and disclosing potential threats on the species.



Lobbying for installation of nest boxes in electric pylons

A meeting will be organized in Romania at first, where the invited Hungarian and Slovak partners will introduce their cooperation, work and achievements in the installation of nest boxes on High Voltage Power Lines for the decision makers of the Romanian Transelectrica Company, who owns most of the High Voltage Power Lines suitable for nest-box mounting in the country. After this meeting, the Hungarian partners will organize a study tour for the Romanian partners to study their work and achievements on the spot in Hungary.



Lobbying for insulation of electric pylons

A meeting will be organized in Romania at first, where the invited Hungarian and Slovak partners will introduce their cooperation, work and achievements in the insulation of pylons of the Middle Voltage Power Lines for the decision makers of the Romanian Electric suppliers who managing the Middle Voltage Power Lines. Slovak partner present the situation in Slovakia where – Electricity Companies are forced by law to change all the dangerous pylons into bird-safe ones in a certain period of time. After this meeting, the Hungarian partners will organize a study tour for the Romanian partners to study their work and achievements on the spot in Hungary.



Erecting information signs at project site

Erect and maintain information signs in project areas along main public roads. Signs will be located at strategic and appropriate places accessible and visible to the public. The LIFE logo, Partners’ logos and co-financiers logo will appear on all signs.



Design and operate project web site

The LIFE06 NAT/H/000096 project has a very successful and popular web site: This former project will be terminated before the new project would start therefore its web site will be modified to accommodate the project. A project web site currently set up and maintained in English, Hungarian and Slovak. It will be extended to accommodate a Romanian and Bulgarian version too. The web site will include a project overview, aims and objectives, the locations of activities, the layman’s report, a news section, PDF versions of project publications and reports, general information on F. cherrug and links to relevant web sites. The same staff of MME’s Monitoring Centre who maintaining the LIFE06 NAT/H/000096 project’ web will work with the project’s communication manager to adopt the former web to the planned project.



Secure public support for conservation efforts

A communication program will be carried out in F. cherrug habitat especially in the common habitat with S. citellus to raise public awareness and promote tolerance especially towards S. citellus in favour of F. cherrug. The effects of different chemicals will be introduced also. There will be an orchestrated approach to developing and disseminating information and messages about the project and its purpose.

Key component items are as follows:

1. An attractive multilingual Poster will be produced in A2 format about the objectives of the project. It will be distributed among farmers, hunters, farm advisors, local decision-makers and politicians during meetings, and among volunteers working on the project. They will be encouraged to display them in frequently visited public places, like municipalities, schools, medical centres and pubs.

2. Aleaflet will be produced and distributed among farmers, hunters, homer owners, farm advisors, local decision-makers and politicians during meetings about the aim, partners, work of the project and the use of chemicals.

3. A30-minute popular Video film will be prepared as a documentary of the project, and used to increase the popularity of F. cherrug protection. Its DVD version will be offered to national and local TV channels. This Video will be shown during the public meetings.



Informing media about project’s aims, activities and achievements

A centrally co-ordinated communication strategy will be applied, with a local or specialist perspective where it is felt more appropriate in each country.



Layman’s report

4000 items of layman’s report (8-12 pages) will be prepared about the status of F. cherrug and the objectives, activities and achievements of the project. It will be presented in English, Hungarian and Slovakian languages in paper and electronic format and will be distributed in meetings and will be available in PDF format on the project web site.



Monitoring of installed nest boxes in Bulgaria and Romania according to the Hungarian and Slovak experience (inclcollection & analysis of food remains)

The installed nest boxes will be checked during the breeding season. The occupied ones will be physically checked during ringing of chicks. A monitoring register will be maintained by each partner about the nest boxes

Frequency of the checks:

1. Inspection of all nest boxes in early spring

2. Inspection to identify the occupancy of them

3. Inspection of occupied nests during bird marking

4. Inspection nest boxes, after juveniles fledged from it to checked if there is any carcasses of the chicks and gathering food remnants from occupied nests after breeding period.

Location of the Action will be determined by Action C1. All nest box installed under Action C1 will be controlled.



Monitoring of repatriated S. citellus population using the Hungarian and Slovak experience of former LIFE project

The repatriated S. citellus will be monitored by the same method what was used by the LIFE06 NAT/H/000096 project. It was based on the adapted standard monitoring method used in the biological diversity monitoring system annually after the dormant period to follow up the status of the population and the success of the repatriation. Information about the habitat quality and management will be collected also. Data will be submitted to the National Biological Diversity Monitoring Database.



Efficiency control of dangerous electric pylon’s insulation

A baseline survey of killed birds along the identified dangerous 22 kV and 30 kV electric power lines sections will be carried out in the first year of the project (C4). After the insulation of dangerous pylons another survey will be carried out. Bird carcasses will be collected and identified along the power lines. Data will be compared to evaluate efficiency of insulation.



Technical management of the project

An efficient project management framework will be established for the implementation of project actions. The LIFE06 NAT/H/000096 project had an efficient project management system to manage successfully the large multinational project. This model will be applied for the project management.



Financial management

1. Undertake financial monitoring: This obligation will be met by appointing a Project Administrator (PA) to carry out the day by day monitoring and an independent auditor to verify that financial statements provided to the Commission respect national legislations and that all costs respect the LIFE Common Provisions. The independent Auditor will be required to perform inspections of all associated beneficiaries' documentation annually. Associated beneficiaries will be also requested to send Monthly Financial Reports to allow the project administrator to monitor the financial performance of the whole project.

2. Production of interim financial report and interim claim: An interim financial report will be produced by the PA when 150% of first pre-financing payment has been spent.

3. Productions of final financial report and claim on completion of the project: A final financial report will be submitted within 90 days after the completion of the project.

An external Project Administrator will be hired to carry out the regular financial administration and monitoring work.



Training of project staff

Project participants will attend a compulsory training in order to learn about project schedule, working practices, use of instruments, methods of data management and storage, information flow, administration, financial administration and reporting. Lectures will be held during the first days, while practical field demonstrations are scheduled for the second one.



Held Steering Committee meetings

A Steering Committee will be formed by the beneficiaries’ directors after the grant agreement signed. Each beneficiary will be represented in the Committee by the director or by his/her representative. Ministry of Environment and Water in Hungary and Ministry of Environment in Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania will be also invited to send representatives into the Steering Committee. The Committee will be chaired by the Coordinating beneficiary’s director. The project Steering Committee will meet usually in September. Following the Project Start-up Steering Committee Meeting, the 2nd Steering Committee Meeting will check that the initial actions have been completed satisfactorily and that the financial arrangements have been effective. For the subsequent years' Steering Committee Meetings, will focus on Technical Activities completed and planned over the preceding and forthcoming 12 months, and it will focus on financial expenditure for the preceding and forthcoming 12 months.



Baseline survey to monitor project success

A baseline survey will be carried out in all of the project areas in Bulgaria and Romania to assess the size of the initial F. cherrug population at the beginning of the project. The survey will take place in early spring and will focus on the possible nest sites (cliffs, high voltage electric pylons, large trees, forest edges). Participants will search for territorial adults and active nests. This action will be completed by the local project staff and volunteers, with the assistance of the beneficiaries from Hungary and Slovakia.



Collecting migratory and immigration data by satellite telemetry, bird ringing and feather analysis

Position of 36 birds tagged with satellite transmitters under Action A1, A3 & C7 will be acquired in a regular basis in every week approximately for three years. A map of the current position of the tagged birds and its route there will be maintained on the project web page (D.3). Results of this monitoring of F. cherrug’s movements will be used as a basis to complete A1, A3 and C7 actions:

- A1: in Romania and Bulgaria monitoring data will be an important element to evaluate existing agricultural subsidy schemes from Saker conservation point of view;

- A3: monitoring results of F. cherrug will be used to base proposals on wind farm development projects in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria;

- C7: the monitoring data will be used for understanding better the movements of Romanian F. cherrug, thus mapping the appropriate habitats and threats – to improve F. cherrug conservation in Romania.

If contact would be lost or position would remain stationary then associated beneficiaries in the area in question will be asked to investigate about the reason for it or a monitor team will follow it in countries outside project countries.

Ringing of chicks and collecting feather samples from them for a later DNA analysis are also means to study movements of Sakers and relationships between populations, thus making conservation efforts more efficient. 

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