The 23 May 2018 wil be known as a landmark day in vulture conservation in Europe with the formal approval by the European Union of two international species actions plans, for the Bearded and Cinereous Vultures.
Since 2014 we have led on the development of the two plans as part of the LIFE EuroSAP, led by BirdLife International project and in March 2018 at a meeting of the EU's Expert Group on the Birds and Habitats Directive the Species Action Plans were endorsed by by EU member states, an important step in getting them offically approved by the EU.
The LIFE EuroSAP project is an ambitious collaboration that spanned 65 countries and involved more than 500 experts, scientists, and conservation practitioners that aimed to change the fate of 16 threatened bird species.
The project aims to determine science-based conservation solutions for these 16 species through the development and/or updating of eight targeted European and/or International Species Action Plans and one Multi-Species Action Plan.
Species Action Plans outline outline information about the population status, ecology, threats and the current conservation measures and list the key actions that are required for both the Bearded and Cinereous vultures. The plans for these species were last updated in 1997 and 1996.
The ambitious plans set out a framework of key conservation actions that will improve the conservation status and protect the two species in Europe. For the Bearded Vulture one of the main goals is to connect the currently isolated populations and increase the population size with the aim of uplisting the species in the European International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List from their current categorisation of 'near threatened' with extinction to being of 'least concern'.
By 2028 the species action plan for the Cinereous Vulture outlines the conservation measures that aims to restore the species to its original distribution range in Europe, which will see the return of the bird to the skies above Greece and the Balkans, and eventually other areas of Europe where the species went extinct.
The Species Action Plans will influence vulture conservation over the next decade and guide spending and funding priorities, so their approval is a milestone in the conservation of Europe's four vultures.
VCF staff will present the two species action plans at the final conference of the LIFE EuroSAP, Eyes on the Flyways.
We are extremely proud to have led the coordination of this work and thank all the contributors involved in the workshops that led to the final reports.