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Europe’s rarest waterbird benefits from a team effort in conservation

The Fennoscandian population of the Lesser White-Fronted Goose (LWFG) is declining alarmingly in south-east Europe. The Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS) / Birdlife Greece and partners have combined efforts to carry out urgent, concrete conservation actions in the wintering and staging grounds of the species as well as policy work, awareness-raising, vocational training and environmental education to tackle the problem head on. 

Through an extensive network of international, national and local experts and stakeholders, the partners have implemented a successful ‘flyway approach’ spanning the entire Eurasian migration path of the species. A wide range of actors are involved in the initiative — two national public authorities (Ministry of Environment and Energy/Greece and Metsähallitus/Finland), three NGOs (HOS/Greece, BSPB/Bulgaria and WWF/Finland), the Forest Research Institute/Greece, Hortobágy National Park Directorate/Hungary and the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat. In addition to these partners, the project reached 15 countries and experts along the species’ flyway. This partnership has played a key role in implementing a standardised monitoring programme and securing patrolling and habitat restoration work. The initiative was supported by the EU LIFE programme and the Norwegian Environment Fund.

The project is implemented simultaneously in seven Natura 2000 sites across Europe and relies on building networks at all levels. Through the project, knowledge about the species has increased. At the start of the initiative in 2011, the population of LWFG was known to number some 50-70 individuals; now, over 110 birds are registered. The network in Europe involved in conservation of the LWFG now has over 100 people who are engaged in monitoring in 18 countries. Around 2 000 people overall from school children and local hunters to international experts and senior policy makers have been engaged through the project. Around 50 people in Greece and Bulgaria have been trained in applying novel patrolling schemes.

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