Developing Tools to Support Farmland Bird Conservation in the European Union, Reference No ENV/2020/OP/0003

Period of implementation: October 2020 – October 2022

Contractor: International consortium led by Austrian Environment Agency in partnership with: Dicon Group Ltd., BirdLife Hungary, Helsingin Yliopisto, Ceska Zemedelska Univerzita v Praze, Pensoft Publishers, ICETA Institutio de Ciencias, Tecnologias e Agroambiente Da Universidade do Porto, Institut Supérieur d’Agriculture Rhône-Alpes I.S.A.R.A and Consorci Centre de Ciencia i Tecnologia Forestal de Catalunya – CTFC.

Contracting Authority: The European Union, represented by the European Commission, Service contract No. 07.0202/2020/834463/SER/ENV.D.3

Project’s objective:

The general objective of the contract is to provide a concrete support to ten Member States to design and put in place effective measures to conserve farmland birds, in Natura 2000 sites and outside, in connection with the application of Articles 3 and 4 of the Birds Directive. A broad partnership-building communication process is envisaged, involving all stakeholders, including farmers, landowners and land users, hunters, etc.

Specific objectives under the contract are:

  • Gathering the available scientific data for conservation of the main categories of agricultural systems, important for birds in order to provide a useful information for the elaboration or modification of Member States’ planning tools linked to nature legislation (in particular Prioritized Action Frameworks under Article 8 of the Habitats Directive and Species Action Plans), CAP Strategic Plans and other EU funding instruments;
  • For a limited number of flagship farmland bird species, characterize their habitats and management requirements; description of the existing related conservation measures and the current funding schemes, which support their implementation, including EU schemes;
  • Seeking socio-economic enabling solutions for stakeholders in charge of the management of the agricultural land and the implementation of measures for farmland birds;
  • Supporting ten Member States (including Bulgaria) in preparing schemes for conservation of a limited number of emblematic species and species with declining numbers in line with their ecological requirements, which to be incorporated into planning tools linked to the nature legislation (e.g. Prioritized Action Frameworks, Species/Habitats Action Plans), to the CAP, and other EU funding instruments;
  • Gathering information of effective and efficient measures for conservation of farmland birds, including those funded by EU funds, with a focus on LIFE and the CAP and identifying demonstration sites where the measures are or will be implemented;
  • Disseminating the products of the contract to foster the uptake of developed schemes and measures by stakeholders, especially by farmers;
  • Proposing a structured approach for the continuation of the activities on farmland birds’ conservation after the end of the contract.

Tasks, envisaged under this contract are:
TASK 1: Overview of conservation information for major agricultural systems      

  • Sub-task 1.1. Identification of a classification system that is relevant both in terms of ecology and farming;       
  • Sub-task 1.2. Identification at least 10 major EU agricultural systems in the selected classification system under sub-task 1.1;    
  • Sub-task 1.3. Characterization of the causes of the decline of the birds associated with the 10 identified EU agricultural systems and the current threats and pressures they face;     
  • Sub-task 1.4. Identification of the concrete management options and landscape characteristics that benefit as many possible bird species associated with each of the 10 agricultural systems and that contribute to complying with Articles 3 and 4 of the Birds Directive for these species;
  • Sub-task 1.5. Description of the potential co-benefits of the management options and landscape characteristics identified under sub-task 1.4;
  • Sub-task 1.6. Identification of the main knowledge gaps that need to be addressed.

TASK 2: Overview of conservation science for flagship farmland birds      

  • Sub-task 2.1. Identification of at least 15 unsecure or declining bird species;  
  • Sub-task 2.2. Collection of the main relevant information for their conservation.          

TASK 3: Support to Member States in developing conservation schemes for flagship species      

  • Sub-task 3.1. Identification of 10 Member States, based on suitable criteria, including the interest of the competent authorities and stakeholders, especially farm organizations and/or farm advisory services, in which to implement sub-task 3.2.;
  • Sub-task 3.2. Establishment of a mechanism for consulting, meeting and engaging environmental and agricultural authorities as well as stakeholders in each of the identified 10 Member States;          
  • Sub-task 3.3. Drafting the twenty conservations schemes in the 10 identified Member States (preferably, two per Member State) including one or more management prescriptions constituting agricultural-related measures.      

TASK 4: Organization of two workshops, involving national/regional environmental and agricultural authorities, researchers, conservation NGOs, stakeholders, Farm Advisory Services, and the Commission services:         

  • Sub-task 4.1. Organisation of the first workshop during the first nine months of this contract;   
  • Sub-task 4.2. Organisation of the second workshop towards the end of the contract.   

TASK 5: Communication

  • Sub-task 5.1. Carrying out targeted communication activities towards environmental and agricultural authorities, and stakeholders on the work under this contract;
  • Sub-task 5.2. Preparation of communication materials aimed at stakeholders;
  • Sub-task 5.3. Dissemination of the prepared materials;
  • Sub-task 5.4. Provision of materials and resources to be uploaded on the Nature webpages of the European Commission.

TASK 6: Further collaboration on farmland birds

The expert team of Dicon Group will participate actively in elaboration of two conservation schemes for Bulgaria. The aim is the proposed schemes to be included in CAP Strategic plan. Each conservation scheme will be socio-economically feasible and will integrate the necessary elements for its successful implementation, as well a set of indicators for assessing its effectiveness.