Yesterday marked a landmark day for vulture conservation in Europe with the formal approval by the EU of two international species actions plans we coordinated. At a meeting of the Expert Group on the Birds and Habitats Directive (NADEG) on Wednesday 23 March, the plans for the cinereous vulture and bearded vulture that the VCF led on the development were endorsed by EU member states.
The species action plans 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.
These plans were developed as part of a three year project, LIFE EuroSAP, led by BirdLife International , that aimed to tackle the severe threats that affect the conservation efforts of 16 of Europe's iconic birds including the bearded and cinereous vultures. The project was implemented in 10 European countries by 13 partners across Europe, each leading or supporting the Action Planning work on one or more species, covering a total of 16 species.
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.