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Премия рунета 2017

The "Save the forest — the habitat for birds of prey" project

WWF-Russia has launched the "Save the forest — the habitat for birds of prey" project, which aims to conserve the habitats for rare bird species.

What’s the problem?

From the 1990s to the present day in Russia, the state of habitats of rare bird species is deteriorating due to the cutting down of old-growth forests. Large birds such as the cinereous vulture, eastern imperial eagle, white-tailed eagle, osprey and black stork nest in tall trees, often in sparsely visited forest areas. Their number decreases every day. These birds use the same nests for several years. Therefore, the preservation of nesting trees, as well as adjacent areas, is an effective measure to restore populations of rare bird species.

All these species are sensitive to logging in nesting sites, so they leave their nests at the slightest disturbance of the forest structure within their borders. The latter leads to the death of clutches and chicks. In general, it results into a reduction in the number of new generations, which can affect the state of the species as a whole. Preserving single large trees will not solve the problem. For most species necessary to preserve the forest areas around these trees that they use for reproduction.

The geography of the problem

The Caucasus is one of the regions where populations of large bird species listed in the Red Data Book of Russia are concentrated, nesting in large trees and suffering from logging. It is habitat for the largest population of cinereous vulture in the European part of the country, which cannot co-exist with a human.

Nest of Cinereous Vulture in Caucasus forest
Alexander Perevozov (c)

Selective logging is almost everywhere carried out regardless of the fact that forests in the Caucasus are classified as protective. Obviously, it is impossible to conserve natural habitats for all kind of birds in the entire area – then there would be no room for people and their economic activities, but it is important to conserve areas that are critically important for their survival.

Today, the conservation of rare bird species' habitats is regulated by the standards elaborated by WWF-Russia, which are fixed in the forestry regulations of the administrative units. However, in fact, loggers do not always adhere to these rules. Implementing these recommendations in practice will ensure the safety of bird nesting sites and the stability of their populations.

What bird species are under threat?

  • These birds are White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), 
  • Lesser spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina),
  • Eastern imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca),
  • Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus),
  • Osprey (Pandion haliaetus),
  • Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis),
  • Black Stork (Ciconia nigra).

What solution does WWF offer?

To protect bird habitats, it is necessary to grant these areas the status of specially protected forest areas with the approval of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the region and the Federal Forestry Agency, as well as to constantly monitor forest management activities in these areas.

However, there is a lot of work to be done

  1. Field research on the territory of forest areas and mapping of nesting sites of large bird species in the forests of the Caucasus.
  2. Preparing a list of rare species nests.
  3. Reaching agreements with logging companies about the conservation buffer zone around the nesting sites of birds.
  4. Preparation of documents for granting the status of specially protected forest areas for these sites
  5. Submission of these documents to regional Department of forest management and Rosleskhoz.
  6. Monitoring of forest management activities in the areas of detected nests to monitor compliance with the terms of protection agreements.

Ornithologists have proved that for normal reproduction of such birds, it is necessary to maintain an edge zone around the nest tree. The width of these zones varies from 100 to 500 meters, depending on the type of the nest. These areas can be maintained on a voluntary basis by logging companies during the preparation of documents to grant them the status of specially protected forest areas.


Kabardino-Balkarian Republic
The Kabardino-Balkarian Republic will be the first region where the "Save the forest - the habitat for birds of prey" project will be implemented. The project partner at this stage is the Research Institute of Ecology of Mountain Territories named after A. K. Tembotov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, whose experts will conduct the necessary research to find and map the nests of rare bird species in of the Republic.

In the future, this project is planned to be implemented in Adygea, Karachay-Cherkessia, North Ossetia-Alania, and Dagestan.
Nest location in the mixed broadleaf forest of the Caucasus
Roman Mnatsekanov / WWF (c)