Life LogoLIFE Project
"Cross-border Protection of the Great Bustard in Austria"Logo Natura 2000

The “Great Bustard” LIFE Project was successfully finalised on July 31st, 2010

Opening of the information and observation point at the church of Wartberg in Straning-Grafenberg on July 9th, 2010
Opening of the information and observation point at the church of Wartberg in Straning-Grafenberg on July 9th, 2010

Collision with overhead power lines was the most significant mortality factor for fully grown (i.e. immature and adult) Great Bustards in Austria for many years. The main objective of this LIFE project was to deal with this threat and at the same time to continue Austria's intensive habitat management efforts to result in a long-term increase not only of the Austrian, but of the entire cross-border West-Pannonian population of the Great Bustard.

Numerous measures were implemented in the project period from August 1st, 2005 till July 31st, 2010 to reach this aim. All of the undergrounding of in total 47,4 km (10% more than previously planned) medium voltage power lines is finished in the two Project areas “Westliches Weinviertel” (33,2 km) and “Parndorfer Platte – Heideboden” (14,2 km). Thus larger areas free of power lines are available for the Great Bustard due to the LIFE project.

The marking of in total 153 km (22% more than previously planned) high voltage power lines (110, 220 and 380 kV) is finished in all of the 3 project areas (80,0 km in the project area “Westliches Weinviertel”).

Due to undergrounding and marking of power lines and various other conservation efforts the Austrian as well as the entire cross-border West-Pannonian population of Great Bustard clearly increased in the last years.

Opening of the information and observation point at the church of Wartberg in Straning-Grafenberg on July 9th, 2010
Opening of the information and observation point at the church of Wartberg in Straning-Grafenberg on July 9th, 2010
The three project areas
The three project areas

The objectives of this LIFE project were to deal with the threat of collision with power lines, the no. 1 mortality factor for adult and immature Great Bustards in Austria, and at the same time to continue Austria’s intensive habitat management efforts. Thus, the result should be a long-term increase not only of the Austrian, but of the entire cross-border West-Pannonian population of the Great Bustard. Furthermore on the basis of bustard protection the unique value of the cultural landscape and the need for integrated nature conservation in the framework of Natura 2000 und LIFE shall be communicated to the public

Implemented actions
Implemented undergrounding and marking of power lines in project areas 1 and 3
Implemented undergrounding and marking of power lines in project areas 1 and 3

In Lower Austria and Burgenland from November 2005 till September 2008 47.4 km of medium voltage power lines (10 % more than originally planned) have been transferred below the soil and then the existing power line has been re-moved. Therefore larger power line-free areas were recreated for the Great Bustard by means of the LIFE Project.

Within the project around 153 km (22 % more than originally planned) of high voltage power lines have been marked with bird warning flags, bird warning plates and bird warning balls.
Due to these actions and due to further intensive conservation efforts such as the competent support of the Great Bustards and the extensive habitat management, the Austrian Great Bustard population increased from 140-165 individuals at the breeding time 2005 to 244-274 individuals at the breeding time 2010.

For maintaining living conditions and food supply for Great Bustards in Austria in a good state, an efficient cooperation of nature conservation with local farmers and hunters was required. Therefore around 550 farmers and more than 100 hunters were involved in the project.

As Great Bustards don't mind borders, an intensive co-operation between Austria and its neighbouring countries Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic was carried out within the LIFE Project concerning the cross-border protection of the West-Pannonian Great Bustard population.

Alert male
Alert male

Project duration
August 2005 to July 2010

Planned project budget
5,840,760 EURO

Project beneficiary
Austrian Society for Great Bustard Conservation (ÖGG)
Bgm. Reinhold Reif (chairman)

LIFE Nature is a programme of the EU, which supports nature protection projects in Natura 2000 areas. Natura 2000 is a network for the in-situ management and conservation of Europe's most remarkable fauna, flora and habitats.

The LIFE Project LIFE05 NAT/A/000077 was supported by the EU and the following project partners and co-financiers:

Detailed information on this project can be found here:


European Union

The European Union (EU) covers a large area of the European continent - from the Polar Circle to the Mediterranean Sea and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Aegean. In spite of their diversity all countries belonging to the EU (its "member states") are committed to the same basic values: peace, democracy, a state founded on the rule of law, and respect for human rights. They aim to promote these values, to create prosperity and distribute it justly, and to influence world politics, by uniting their efforts. Environmental pollution is not restricted by state borders. A single country cannot combat it effectively on its own. Therefore, and because in the free European market standards must be the same everywhere to allow fair competition, measures to protect the environment have to be taken on a pan-European level. Sustainable development is one of the top priorities of the EU, taking into consideration questions of environmental protection in all areas of politics.

EVN Logo

EVN AG - Energy Supply Lower Austria PLC

Extract from the company's website We are an Austrian energy and service enterprise and supply our clients who are mainly from Lower Austria - the largest province in Austria - with electricity, gas, heating, and water using the latest infrastructure. At the same time we provide the services needed in combination with our products. In all this, considerate treatment of the environment is very important to us. Therefore, we increasingly invest in renewable energy resources such as water and wind power and biomass.

Bewag Netz Logo

BEWAG - Burgenland Electricity Commerce PLC

Extract from the company's website BEWAG is the youngest provincial energy supply company in Austria. It was founded in 1958. Based in Eisenstadt the company is owned by the province of Burgenland (51%) and the Burgenland Holding AG (49%). We supply around 120,000 households and 15,000 industrial and agricultural enterprises in Burgenland with our products including light, heating and hot water. We aim to optimize benefits and comfort for our clients while using energy sensibly and combining this with minimum possible emissions and utmost safety.

VERBUND-Austrian Power Grid PLC

VERBUND Austrian Power Grid AG (APG) is a legally independent enterprise and a 100% subsidiary of VERBUND based in Vienna. APG is leader of Austria's largest electricity regulation zone and as such also fulfils international responsibilities in the European electricity grid. APG guarantees an equal and high-capacity arena for the liberalised electricity market. APG operates the largest cross-regional power grid in Austria with voltages of 110kV, 220kV and 380kV. APG guarantees secure, cheap, and environmentally friendly electricity transport. APG is in charge of planning, running, maintaining, and expanding the power network. APG is head of the green energies group of Austria's largest electricity regulation zone and as such functions as the central administrative platform for promoting electricity production from renewable sources (small-scale hydropower, wind, photovoltaics, biomass etc.). Website:

Logo of the ÖBB

ÖBB-Infrastructure Building PLC

Extract from the company's website The ÖBB-Group has been operational since 1st January 2005. Instead of the former ÖBB, a group structure was created with ÖBB-Holding AG as the leading company as well as economically and legally independent joint stock companies and private limited companies. This is to ensure that the railways remain economically viable and competitive. ÖBB-Infrastructure Building PLC began its business activities on 1st January 2005. It is therefore the youngest joint stock company founded according to the ÖBB reform as part of the ÖBB-Holding. After merging with HL-AG (Railway High Performance Track PLC) and with the financial share of SCHIG (Railtrack Infrastructure Financing Ltd.), ÖBB Infrastructure Building AG now takes a leading role in the group commanding 80% of the balance-sheet total. ÖBB Property Management Ltd. and Brenner Railway Ltd. are 100% subsidiaries of ÖBB Infrastructure Building AG. The company operates all across Austria and has around 3,000 employees.

Amt der Niederösterreichischen Landesregierung Logo

Regional Government of Lower Austria, Department for Nature Conservation

The Lower Austrian Government has been actively supporting Great Bustard protection with financial resources and personnel for a many years and has achieved considerable success over this period.

Naturschutz Burgenland Logo
Regional Government of Burgenland, Department 5.III for Nature Conservation and Protection of the Environment
For many years, protection of the Great Bustard has been a special focus for nature conservation in Burgenland. On behalf of the Department for Nature Conservation of the Burgenland government (and partly on behalf of Lake Neusiedl National Park) the Great Bustard population in Burgenland has been monitored since 1990 and concrete habitat protection measures have been initiated. The SPA Parndorfer Platte - Heideboden was established mainly in order to protect Great Bustards. Work in this area was further increased with the beginning of the INTERREG III project.
Bundesministerium für Land- und Fortschwirtschaft Logo

Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water management (BMLFUW)

BMLFUW together with the provinces of Burgenland and Lower Austria has been financing measures to protect Great Bustards for many years. On the one hand this means ensuring that the different Austrian bustard populations are monitored and cared for, and on the other hand it means financing dedicated bustard conservation areas through "ÖPUL", the Austrian agri-environment scheme.