Bretagne Vivante, programmes Life : phragmite aquatique

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English summary of the LIFE program

Conservation of the Aquatic Warbler in Brittany
The Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola is one of Europe’s warblers most exposed to the danger of extinction. This explains that it has the status of endangered species on a global scale (SPEC1) and that it is a priority of the Bird Directive of the European Commission. The population of breeders, estimated at about 12 500-20 000 breeding pairs (Aquatic Warbler Conservation Team, 2003), is distributed essentially over Poland and Byelorussia. The wintering zone, which is not clearly known, is situated in western tropical Africa.
Over a period of 25 years information has been collected by ringing stations in the framework of the European programme Acroproject. This information shows that the principal stop-over and fattening-up zone during the post-nuptial migration is situated in the north-west of France along the coast of the Channel and further down along the Atlantic. The zone is characterised by a string of coastal marshes along the Norman and Brittanian coasts, from the Seine Bay to the Loire estuary.
The principal threat on these zones is the absence of management in favour of the Aquatic Warbler. This is enhanced by the secretiveness of this little warbler and the lack of necessary knowledge on behalf of the managers. This absence of management often goes hand in hand with other threats that are always the lot of wetland zones as the degradation of the hydraulic functioning, natural filling-up, water pollution, man-made changes (filling-up, intensive reaping of the reed beds, development for leisure activities or for shooting). These threats all bring with them a loss in diversity of the habitats and a change in their ecological functions for the aquatic warbler i.e. feeding, resting and nocturnal orientation. 
Thus the main motivation for this project is to increase the surface of habitats favourable for the migrating Aquatic Warbler along the French coasts of the Atlantic. This general aim can be declined in two specific aims:

  • maintaining or rehabilitating the ecological functions essential for the receiving of the migrating Aquatic Warbler on some important stop-overs;
  • promoting the experience in management acquired by the persons in charge and by the managers of the string of coastal marshes.

  In Brittany, the project is led on 3 sites designated in SPA, under the responsibility of the proposant, Bretagne Vivante – SEPNB :

  • to improve the knowledge of the migratory stop-overs and the role of their habitats for the species: the project plans a radio-tracking operation, a study of the diet through analyses of droppings collected on the ringing stations and a further inventory of possible spring migratory stop-overs.
  • to perpetuate the regulation protection of the most important stop-overs: this means a control on the use and the property status of 30 hectares by management agreements or acquisitions.
  • to put in place a management adapted to the vital habitats : the planned work concerns 265 hectares of marshes and consists in rehabilitation work on the marshes by clearing out, digging ditches, installing gates or maintenance work by reaping of the reed beds and the subhalophilic meadows on a pluriannual basis and by the management of water levels.promoting the experience in management acquired by the persons in charge and by the managers of the string of coastal marshes.
  • to make the local population aware of the importance of these zones by the production and the broadcasting of a film, by conferences in the localities, by the publishing of a brochure and by a programme of activities for the general public and school children. The Life will thus contribute to a local understanding and acceptation of the Natura 2000 sites.
  • to share the acquired experience with the managers and persons in charge in France by the organisation of technical workshops and the publishing, at the end of the programme, of a collection of experiences. This booklet will at the same time propose a regional conservation strategy. The creation of a web site and the planning of exchanges with the Spanish Life LIFE2002NAT/E/8616REV complete the communication chapter.
The Life is planned over a period of 5 years and 4 months, from Jan 1st 2004 to April 30th 2009.
 
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