Life LogoLIFE Project
"Conservation of Otis tarda in Hungary"Logo Natura 2000

Female walking
Female walking

Kiskunság National Park Directorate
Liszt F. u. 19
6001  Kecskemét
Hungary Magyarország

Project Background:

The Hungarian population of the globally threatened great bustard (Otis tarda) has decreased dramatically over the last forty years: from 8,557 in 1941 to 1,100-1,300 individuals by 1988 - yet it is still very important in the European context. The population is however stagnating, and this poses a risk to its long-term conservation.
The LIFE project aims to increase the population size in Hungary by 10% during the project duration and 50% within 10 years. This target is to be reached through the joint cooperation of 5 National Parks, 4 NGOs, 1 university and the Ministry of Environment,  and through dove-tailing project actions with those already ongoing at the national level for the species.

Project Objectives:

This project will focus on habitat conservation measures in 9 areas (Mosoni-síkság, Kiskunsági szikes puszták, Solti-síkság, Dévaványai-sík, Kis-Sárrét, Bihari-síkság, Hortobágy, Borsodi-Mezőség and Hevesi-sík); all to be classified as Special Protection Areas under the Birds Directive. Within the framework of the project, management plans will be drawn up for these SPAs. Some land will be purchased at key locations, such as display and wintering grounds, to complement earlier efforts by Hungarian nature conservation organisations. The land purchased will become strict preservation zones and will be managed to create favourable habitats with good feeding opportunities year-round and limited disturbance during the most critical periods of the bustards' life-cycle.
The project will undertake actions to reduce key factors of mortality, notably through the establishment of a national network of regional field officers, in charge of locating and safeguarding nests threatened by agricultural work. Egg and chick mortality is also to be reduced by formulating and implementing a national Predator Management Plan. Adult mortality is to be reduced by removing dangerous sections of power line crossing traditional display or wintering grounds. Finally, winter mortality is to be reduced by growing oilseed rape and alfalfa and clearing snow from foraging areas in emergency situations, when the population would otherwise starve.
A comprehensive monitoring programme is to record changes in population parameters, habitats and in numbers of key predator species.
An intensive communication programme, targeting farmers, game managers and political decision-makers at local and national level, is expected to increase awareness in the target groups and create support for conservation measures for the Great Bustard, including the designation of Natura 2000 sites important for the species.

Project Partners:

Bükk National Park Directorate
Fertõ-Hanság and Õrség National Park Directorate
Hortobágy National Park Directorate
Körös-Maros National Park Directorate
Bihar Nature Conservation & Cultural Public Foundation
Tiszatáj Environmental & Nature Conservation Public Foundation
University of West Hungary, Institute of Wildlife Management
MME - BirdLife Hungary

Project Manager was:

András Bankovics
Kiskunság National Park Directorate
Liszt Ferenc u. 21
H-6000 Kecskemét
Mobile: +36 30 555 1171
Office: +36 76 482 611
Fax: +36 76 481 074

Project Administration:

Planned Budget: 4,349,471 EURO
Life Contribution: 1,929,024.00 EURO
Year of Finance: 2004
Duration: 01-OCT-2004 to 30-SEP-2008
Commission Reference: LIFE04 NAT/HU/000109

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.