Press Releases

Wingspan Conference

Wingspan - Nature-positive energy transition

Wingspan is a biennial conference for nature conservationists, scientists, renewables developers and operators, electricity grid operators, and government and authority representatives to share strategies and solutions for a nature-positive energy transition. Wingspan fosters dialogue and solution-oriented learning by showcasing recent scientific knowledge, state-of-the-art conservation strategies, and nature-inclusive technological innovations. 

On 15-17 October 2024, join us in Brussels for the inaugural edition of Wingspan, a new biennial conference for a nature-positive energy transition. This year, we are showcasing partnerships between electricity grid operators, renewables developers and operators and environmental civil society – and fostering an environment for new such partnerships to be born.  

For more information on the Wingspan 2024 and the registration please click here.


Results of the synchronous winter count of the Great Bustard in Central Europe 2024

Results of the synchronous winter count of the Great Bustard in Central Europe in January 2024 within the LIFE project “Great Bustard”: Efforts to protect the great bustard are showing success throughout Central Europe.

The results in 2024 show again a slightly increase in the Central European Population. In total 2,723 individuals were counted, which means a growth by approx. 11% (2022-2024). The strongest relative increase was in the East-Pannonian population, which increased by approx. 16% (2022-2024). The West-Pannonian population has grown by approx. 7% (2022-2024) and the German population slightly decreased by approx. 4%. This means that there is an increase in the Central European population by approx. 56% from the year 2017 to 2024.

Full report here.


Many of the world migratory species are in decline...


The landmark UN report “State of the World’s Migratory Species,” which was released at the opening of a major UN wildlife conservation conference (CMS COP14), reveals a shocking decline with many of the world’s migratory species of animals declining and the risk of global extinction increasing.

Because they ignore national borders and may travel long distances, they face greater threats than other species.

Despite the situation, there is still a hope. Austria and Hungary are implementing together a huge cross-border protection project in Central Europe.

Thanks to conservation efforts like habitat management, reduction of the risk of collision with power lines and cooperation with farmers and hunters, the Great Bustard populations in Austria and Hungary has been significantly increasing.

For more information about LIFE Great Bustard project see the link:





LIFE Great Bustard Brochure

MOS5 2023 Bratislava, Slovakia - King of the Steppes deserves better protection

An iconic species of the European lowlands, the Great Bustard, is endangered due to loss of its habitats. Therefore 23 years ago the Memorandum of Understanding on the conservation and management of the Central European population of the Great Bustard was signed. Till now it was signed by 14 countries where this bird species lives or has its natural areal. This week Bratislava hosts two important meetings aimed at the great bustard protection: scientific symposium and the 5th Meeting of Signatories of the above mentioned Memorandum. Over 40 participants from 14 countries will assess the status and effectiveness of the already implemented measures and set future tasks. During the press conference representatives from Hungary, Austria and Slovakia will sign a common declaration targeted to the three-border region where the Great Bustard still occurs. While the Western Pannonian population, which lives on the Slovak-Hungarian-Austrian border, has been multiplying over the last 28 years, the overall European population has been declining.

According to the recent study by Mimi Kessler (2022), the global population consists of an estimated 29,060 - 32,449 individuals. The majority of the Great Bustard population, around 27,987 to 30,436 individuals, live in Europe (update on the status of the european Great Bustard population during the MOS5 2023 in Bratislava, Slovakia). Not only the world population but also the european population has declined by 1/3 in 11 years. This fact was the reason for the meeting of a number of experts at a scientific symposium held on 18-19 September in Bratislava. The expert event was followed, for the first time in Slovakia, by the fifth meeting of the signatories of the Memorandum, held on 20- 21 September2023.

The Declaration on the long-term conservation of the Great Bustard in the tri-border region of Hungary, Austria and Slovakia and its surroundings was signed by the representatives of these three countries. By this act they committed together to protect and improve natural conditions for better life of the Bustard, to increase its population status through monitoring and research and, last but not least, to afford one another immediate cooperation in sharing information on the current support provided to farmers under the EU Common Agricultural Policy.

"The Bustard was once a relatively abundant bird in Slovakia. Today this claim is no longer valid. Hence, it is necessary to increase efforts to protect the Great Bustard while setting up pragmatic rules on the support provided to farmers," said Katarína Butkovská, State Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment.

"The Great Bustard is a characteristic bird of the Hungarian “puszta”, that is, the vast open lowland plains in Hungary. The protection of this “flagship species” and its habitats means safeguarding the future of many other wild animals and plants as well as a part of the Hungarian culture, our heritage of rural life in the “puszta”, the life and work of herdsmen and farmers. Therefore, we support extensive forms of agriculture to help maintain a traditional and sustainable lifestyle and a close-to-nature countryside. Thanks to the efforts of nature conservation supported by LIFE Nature projects and in co-operation with our neighbouring countries, the Hungarian population of Great Bustard has stabilised and even started to grow in the last two decades. We hope the declaration signed today will further strengthen our collaboration and increase the success of our work," said  Bertalan Balczó, the Hungarian Deputy State Secretary.

The fact that one of the rare growing populations of the Bustard in Europe is the West Pannonian population extending into Slovakia is encouraging indeed. The population, which occurs in the tri-border area of Austria, Hungary and Slovakia, now stands at 650 individuals, a significant increase from a minimum of 130 individuals in 1995. The abundance of the Bustard has grown mainly due to active measures taken by both Austria and Hungary.

"In 2001, Austria signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of the Middle-European Population of the Great Bustard (Otis tarda). Since then, the effort to protect the Great Bustard increased significantly. The increase in the West Pannonian population was only possible thanks to the conservation efforts and the cooperation especially between the farmers, conservationists and ministries," said Peter Iwaniewicz, Director, Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Republic of Austria.

“The Great Bustard is the largest flying bird in Europe and a flagship species for the protection and promotion of open European landscapes. Yet, this CMS-listed species is also Globally Threatened and has been undergoing severe population declines in many parts of its range. We therefore welcome the work being done by the Signatories of the CMS Great Bustard MoU to halt and reverse the decline of this species. The inclusive conservation and management efforts involving all local stakeholders are a great conservation success story and a model for others to follow.”said Amy Fraenkel, Executive Secretary, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.

More Information on the MOS5 can be found here


Major threat for the Great Bustard -Collision with power lines

Great Bustards are unfortunately very often affected by collisions with overhead power lines. This can also lead to the disappearance of sub-populations. This has already happened in Austria several decades ago, for example in the north-eastern Weinviertel (north of the Marchfeld).
Thanks to the great financial support of the EU within the framework of 3 Austrian LIFE projects for the protection of the Great Bustard, it has been possible to put more than 150 km of medium-voltage power lines under the ground and to mark more than 150 km of high-voltage power lines in Austria . This has protected many Great Bustards from collisions. Nevertheless, there is still a need for action in Austria in the marginal areas of the Great Bustards.
But much has already been achieved. For example, the Great Bustard population has more than doubled in the last 10 years and is still increasing - in contrast to all other countries with relevant Bustard populations (more than 30 individuals).
Even in Germany, after many successful years, there has been a slight decline again in the last two years.
In Europe and worldwide, the situation is dramatic. Instead of approx. 45,000 Great Bustard individuals 10 years ago, there are now only approx. 30,000 in Europe. 1 in 3 has disappeared in just 10 years. Only in Central Europe have we even managed to achieve an increase thanks to major conservation projects.
In order to stop this negative population trend in other parts of Europe in the future, we have submitted a large LIFE EUROBUSTARD project for 8 countries - from Portugal to Ukraine - with 21 project partners and numerous other cooperation partners. Let's hope that nature conservation will continue to play a role in the EU in the future.

Conference: Shared airspace - Towards a Bird-Friendly Power Grid

Conference: Shared airspace - Towards a Bird-Friendly Power Grid

On September 28, 2022, RGI (Renewables Grid Initiative) and NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union) together with seven German power grid operators invited to the event "Shared Airspace: Towards a bird-friendly power grid" in the Dortmunder U. The LIFE Great Bustard project was also invited to present the experiences of the project. Together with other participants,  bird protection in the power grid in Germany, but also beyond national borders, could be further developed. The conference was about anchoring bird protection in the debate about environmentally friendly grid expansion and equally about uncovering hurdles and ways of implementation.

The forthcoming expansion of renewable energies is consequently accompanied by the expansion of the power grid. Herein lies the opportunity to enter into dialogue and bring together various interests for the energy transition and species protection.

(c) RGI

More information here:



LIFE is 30 podcast with LIFE Great Bustard

Find out more about LIFE and the successful protection of the Great Bustard in the podcast Episode II – Roots in nature!PT8xF8


Alarming decline of the Great Bustard world population over the last two decades

In Austria, the Great Bustard population has declined from about 700-800 individuals in the mid-20th century (1942) to 150-170 in the early 1970s (1970-1972) and to about 100 individuals in the late 1970s (1978). At the end of the century approx. 60 individuals could be recorded. Thanks to conservation efforts, the population has been able to recover in recent years. During the 2014 breeding season, around 320 individuals were recorded in the Weinviertel and in the cross-border breeding area in western Hungary. In the 2021 winter census, 620 individuals were counted in the western Pannonian area and 1,553 individuals in the eastern Pannonian area.

In addition to Austria, an increase in the population in Germany and Hungary was also recorded thanks to conservation efforts. However, the world population has been declining at an annual rate of 3.23% since 2005. The current worldwide population is estimated at 31,000–36,000 individuals, 34% (range 30–38%) fewer than 16 years ago.

Full article: Alarming decline of the Great Bustard Otis tarda world population over the last two decades | Bird Conservation International | Cambridge Core


Results of the synchronous winter count of the Great Bustard in Central Europe 2022

Results of the synchronous winter count of the Great Bustard in Central Europe in January 2022 within the LIFE project “Great Bustard”: Efforts to protect the great bustard are showing success throughout Central Europe.

Full report here.