The conservation of steppe birds is one of the priorities of LPN – League for the Protection of Nature. Lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) is one of the species that stands out in this group of birds due to its conservation status.
Recently, LPN applied the Project "Give Lesser Kestrel a new home” to the initiative promoted by the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) for projects with nature conservation actions from all over the globe. After the initial selection, the best projects were submitted to vote, so the public can choose the one that considers to be the best in each category (Nature, Outdoors and Alpine).
Lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) was, in the beginning of the XX century, a very common species in Portugal but its population has decreased dramatically in the 90s, being counted only 150 couples.
Currently, this small migratory falcon nests mostly in Alentejo old farmhouses, built traditionally with "taipa", which are being abandoned and are at risk of ruin. As a result of deterioration of these structures, colonies of Lesser kestrel tend to disappear. Thus, increasing the availability of nesting sites in areas with favorable feeding habitat will substantially decrease this threat and help restore the Portuguese population of this iconic falcon.
The construction of new structures specific to Lesser kestrel nesting, similar to traditional houses, which act as "condominiums" for this special falcon, will greatly contribute to the recovery of the national population of this species.
Therefore, this new project aims to provide about 140 new nests for the Lesser kestrel, through the construction of two nesting towers in the area of “Campo Branco” (Special Protection Areas (SPA) of Castro Verde and Vale do Guadiana), in Alentejo.
One of the new structures will be built near the largest Portuguese colony, which is being rapidly deteriorated in recent years, and provide an alternative location for couples that breed in this colony. The other structure will be built in an area of suitable habitat for Lesser kestrel but with a reduced number of cavities available for nesting.
In order to maintain the nesting conditions as natural as possible, the nesting structures are partly constructed using traditional building methods (“taipa”). Nests built with this old methodology are more resistant to high temperatures that occur frequently (often above 40° C) and can cause health problems in chicks and juveniles.
Local people and those practicing outdoor activities (including bird watching) will also be involved through awareness activities and volunteering in the construction of these new structures. Achieving this project will thus have a decisive role in the long-term conservation of Lesser kestrel, to help increase its population, that currently stands at 450 couples.
The European Outdoor Conservation Association is an initiative from the European outdoor industry with the objective of protecting the wild areas it cares so passionately about.
The EOCA is funded by membership and other fundraising activities within the outdoor industry. 100% of membership fees go to the support of projects with specific actions in the field. EOCA funding for conservation comes from its 94 members, all part of the European outdoor industry.
Each year, conservation bodies apply to EOCA for funding for a specific project which conserves a threatened species or habitat, and which has a link to the outdoor user. In just 6 years, this group of forward thinking companies has together funded 46 projects in 27 different countries to the tune of over €1 million.
This year 55 applications for funding were received by EOCA who have selected the best 17 projects. This shortlist is being presented to the public both on the association’s website and in seven magazines across Europe, and everyone is being asked to vote for the projects they think are the most deserving of funding. The projects have been put into 3 categories – Alpine projects, Outdoor Projects and Nature Projects depending on their focus. The project with the highest number of votes in each category will receive funding from EOCA.
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