Ongoing projects

Project LIFE Imperial - Conservation of the Spanish Imperial Eagle in Portugal

The Spanish Imperial Eagle is the most threatened bird of prey in Europe and one of the most threatened species in the world...

Currently, the Spanish imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti) is considered endemic to the Iberian Peninsula, as nesting is restricted to Portugal and Spain. The size of its reproductive population in the Iberian Peninsula is so small that there is a high risk of extinction (by simple demographic mischance and/or genetic deterioration) due to unpredictable environmental factors. In recent years, however, the population in Spain has recovered and opportunities have emerged to expand its breeding population in Portugal.

The project LIFE IMPERIAL aims to increase the population of the Spanish imperial eagle in Portugal and, thereafter, improve the overall Iberian population.

A group of planned actions will establish a coherent network to reduce the main threats that are affecting the establishment of pairs in Portugal. These actions include:
- Promoting the maintenance and conservation of its habitat in order to enhance the species' natural recolonisation;
- Improving the quality of breeding habitat for both existing (nine pairs) and new breeding pairs (at least three);
- Increasing availability of prey species in specified areas;
- Reducing mortality factors such as illegal activities (namely poisoning and/or electrocution by power lines);
- Improving efforts by game managers, hunters, land owners, decision makers, birdwatchers, inspection and magistrate entities and others to help conserve the species and ensure its long-term prosperity in Portugal;
- Raising awareness of the general public and stakeholders (including tourism operators and photographers) about the importance of Spanish imperial eagle conservation.

Expected results:
Anticipated outcomes from the project include the following:
- The maintenance of seven existing breeding couples and the establishment of at least three new couples;
- Acquisition of a minimum of 9 trees/small woods supporting nests or with nesting potential;
- Installation of a minimum of 11 artificial platforms and reinforcement of five existing nests;
- Promotion of favourable management measures in territories established at 12 areas in four Natura 2000 network sites (six at Tejo Internacional site, one at Mourão/Moura/Barrancos site, one at Castro Verde site and four at Vale do Guadiana site);
- Identification of the factors limiting the establishment of breeding couples at the project’s four Natura 2000 sites (SPAs);
- Production of a manual of best habitat management practices covering the conservation of imperial eagle;
- Increasing food availability in at least five territories of Spanish imperial eagle;
- Correction of 157 power line supports and six power line ‘disconnectors’ covering 25 km;
- Creation and approval (by the competent Portuguese authorities – ICNF) of the Spanish Imperial Eagle National Action Plan;
- Nine inspection actions/month made by each of the three created canine police teams;
- Training course on illegal poisoning for technicians, SEPNA-GNR (‘nature’ police), ICNF and other agents;
- Iberian workshop on fighting against poison;
- Manual of procedures on the conduct of proceedings of unlawful acts against protected species;
- Establishment of a stewardship network;
- Organisation of two workshops and an international seminar;
- Participation of a minimum of five schools and four after-school clubs in the project’s environmental awareness activities for children and young people;
- Completion of six environmental awareness activities for the general public, with the anticipated involvement of 15 participants in each activity; and
- A visitors’ map and good practice guide for nature photographers and birdwatchers.

With an overall budget of € 2.475.460, co-funded in 75% by the LIFE Nature Programme of the European Commission, this project results from a partnerhip between LPN - Liga para a Protecção da Natureza (coordinator beneficiary) and eight associated beneficiaries: Sociedad Española de Ornitología (SEO/BirdLife), FCUL - Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, TRAGSATEC - Tecnología y Servicios Agrarios S. A., GNR - Guarda Nacional Republicana, ICNF - Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas, IP, CMCV - Câmara Municipal de Castro Verde, EDPD - EDP Distribuição – Energia, S.A. and Mãe d'Água, consultoria técnica em áreas de interesse natural, Lda.

Project reference: LIFE13 NAT/PT/001300
Project duration: July 2014 to December 2018
Project location: Alentejo, Portugal - SPA Tejo Internacional, Erges e Pônsul, SPA Castro Verde, SPA Mourão/Moura/Barrancos and SPA Vale do Guadiana


Coordinator Beneficiary:

Associated beneficiaries:


LIFE13/NAT/PT/1300 – Finnancial contribution of the European Commission's LIFE Programme