The project Promoting steppe bird conservation in Castro Verde (Aves das Estepes) aims to (1) improve the agro-steppe habitat, contributing to reverse the population decline of five threatened "flagship species": the great bustard, the little bustard, the black-bellied sandgrouse, the Montagu's harrier (or harrier eagle) and the rolieiro; and (2) develop and demonstrate a set of conservation actions that can be widely replicated by farmers in other steppe areas, thus multiplying the positive impacts of this project. Funded by the association VIRIDIA, the project will be implemented over one year, between September 2021 and September 2022.
Its area of intervention is the Baixo Alentejo region, more specifically in farms in the Castro Verde Special Protection Area (SPA) for Birds (Natura 2000 Network - European Network of Natural Spaces) and Castro Verde UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which covers the following counties: Castro Verde, Aljustrel, Almodôvar, Ourique, Mértola and Beja.
The Aves das Estepes project aims to address the main current threats to steppe bird populations in the Castro Verde SPA such as the decrease in available habitat due to the establishment of permanent agricultural crops, the deterioration of habitat quality due to overgrazing by cattle and forage production (such as haymaking), climate change, mainly due to increased frequency of droughts, heat waves and fire risk, and predation.
LPN thus intends to contribute to the recovery of the populations of 5 emblematic bird species of the agro-steppe ecosystem, contributing to improve their conservation status in the long term, through the following main strategic axes:
I. Increasing ecosystem resilience and climate change adaptation with nature-based solutions
I.1. Removal of sediment in summer catchments on streams and small dams
I.2. Protection of riverbanks and dams from livestock grazing
I.3. Densification of riparian vegetation
I.4. Installation of small woodlands
I.5. Providing supplementary food resources
II. Reduce the impacts of agricultural activities during the breeding season
II.1. Reduce the impact of hay cutting
II.2. Reduce disturbance and pressure from grazing
II.3. Increase availability of nesting sites for cavity-nesting steppe birds
II.4. Protect nesting harrier
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