WWF HAS LAUNCHED A PROJECT TO PRESERVE THE NESTING SITES OF RARE BIRD SPECIES IN THE CAUCASUS FORESTS
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, - explains Roman Mnatsekanov, senior project coordinator of in the Caucasus Branch WWF-Russia. - 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.
What does the law say?
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, - says Elena Cherkasova, Forest Officer of the Caucasus Branch WWF-Russia. - 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. In particular, in the rare bird species range, it is necessary to identify key habitats that are important for their survival. 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.
WWF-Russia has already started working and
eliciting all documentary information about bird habitats, which will be
verified and supplemented within the subsequent field studies. Further
responsible loggers will be involved in the work, and their participation will
consist in conservation of these crucial areas for birds.
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.