LIFE Aegypius Return

Progress and results

At the heart of every successful wildlife conservation initiative lies transparency, open communication and a shared commitment to monitor the project’s progress, results and deliverables. Our LIFE Aegypius Return project funders, collaborators, stakeholders and supporters share our passion in securing a favourable conservation status for the Cinereous Vulture in Portugal and Western Spain. Through regular updates on milestones and deliverables, we plan on keeping everyone informed and engaged in the progress of the project.

Work Package 1: Project management and coordination

Objectives and Expected Results

  • Ensure the correct technical and financial management and implementation of the project

  • Guarantee an effective coordination of all tasks and internal communication between the partners, through the mechanisms of coordination and adequate decision- making, and to secure provision of the necessary material and human resources

  • Strengthen the cooperation between Portugal and Spain regarding the conservation of the Cinereous Vulture
Milestone NoMilestone NameLead BeneficiaryDescription

Progress

MS1Partnership contractsAll partnersThese contracts formalise the commitments and the relationship between the coordinating beneficiary and the partners, and will follow the provisions of the LIFE Grant AgreementAgreements signed on November 2022

Deliverable Number

Deliverable NameLead BeneficiaryDescriptionProgress
D1.1After-LIFE PlanVCFA report available to the public will be producedTo be produced by December 2027

Work Package 2: Improving breeding success

Objectives and Expected Results

  • Support and increase of the Cinereous Vulture breeding population in Portugal and increase the breeding success
  • Increase the number of pairs and surface occupied in each existing colony
  • Establish one new breeding colony in Portugal and enhance breeding nuclei on the Spanish side that are important for connectivity and growth of the Portuguese colonies
  • Increase the resilience of the wooded areas (an estimated impact area of 8,000 ha through direct habitat management of 570 ha + 25 km fire prevention strips) with breeding colonies or with high potential for nesting to climate change, including forest fires
  • Prevent & mitigate human disturbance (at least in 4 breeding colonies and 1 new breeding colony in Portugal and 2 breeding colonies and new expected nuclei in Spain) affecting the species’ breeding productivity
  • Construction of a total of at least 120 artificial nesting platforms in areas with high breeding potential, and repairing and consolidating a total of 105 existing natural or artificial nests
  • Direct management of habitat (approx. 570 ha + 25 km strips) around the existing Cinereous Vulture colonies and around the main areas where new colonies can be established, to protect them from fire. It will benefit an estimated area of 8000 ha or more
Milestone NumberMilestone NameLead BeneficiaryDescription

Progress

MS2120 management agreements signedVCFNegotiate with landowners/manager agreements for task development with defined criteria for future managementAll agreements to be signed by July 2025
MS3120 new platforms installedVCFSetting up of all new    nesting platforms to be installed in the existing or potential new coloniesAll nests to be installed by March 2025
Deliverable NumberDeliverable NameLead BeneficiaryDescriptionProgress
D2.1Habitat suitability analysis final reportVCFLIFE After-Life Conservation Plan will be shared onlineTo be finalised by October 2023
D2.2List of all relevant official public   planning and management toolsPalombar, ATNatureza, HCList of all relevant official public planning and management tools clearly identifying those which have been revised and to what extent, taking into account project results and recommendationsTo be completed by December 2027

Work Package 3: Reinforcement of population

Objectives and Expected Results

  • Reinforce the Douro Internacional SPA breeding colony (PTZPE0038)

  • Soft release of approximately 20 rehabilitated CVs in the Douro Internacional breeding colony (PTZPE0038)
Milestone NumberMilestone NameLead BeneficiaryDescriptionProgress
MS4Protocol for the successful rehabilitation (for release) of CVsVCFGuidelines and protocols to be followed by the wildlife rehabilitation centers in Portugal when receiving CVsCompleted in January 2024. View protocol. 
MS5Construction of the acclimatization cagePalombarConstruction of a custom- made aviary, next to the Douro Canyon, to house CVs after rehabilitation, for soft releaseTo be produced by March 2023
MS6Soft release of minimum 4 CVs in the Douro colony per yearVCF, PalombarSoft release of min. 4 CVs/year in the Douro area after acclimitisation to promote fixation in the areaTo be released annually: October 2023 July 2024 July 2025 July 2026 July 2027
Deliverable NumberDeliverable NameLead BeneficiaryDescriptionProgress
D3.1Annual report on soft-releases and movements of tagged birdsVCF, PalombarAn online summary of result in EnglishTo be produced annually: December 2023 December 2024 December 2025 December 2026 December 2027

Work Package 4: Improving the food base for vultures

Objectives and Expected Results

 

  • Increase food availability and quality for Cinereous Vulture in a sustainable way: improve the management of the vulture feeding stations network in Portugal and nearby Spanish areas, optimizing it for the CV, but go beyond the resource-heavy supplementary feeding by creating and mainstreaming unfenced feeding areas in Portugal
  • Establishment of 2 new supplementary vulture feeding sites (one in Portugal and one in Spain), and one renovated in Spain
  • Over 55 non-fenced feeding areas established in the distribution range of CV in Portugal + 10 in nearby Spanish areas (covering a total surface of extensive livestock holdings of at least 18,000 ha)
Milestone NumberMilestone  NameLead BeneficiaryDescriptionProgress
MS735 non-fenced feeding areas operatingLPNFirst 35 non- fenced feeding areas operating

To be in operation by January 2026

MS82 new supplementary feeding staions fully operationalATN and FNyH2 new supplementary feeding stations fully operationalTo be established by August 2024
Deliverable NumberDeliverable  NameLead BeneficiaryDescriptionProgress
D4.1Strategy for increasing food availability for the Cinereous Vulture in the project areaLPNOnline report in PortugueseTo be produced by November 2023

Work Package 5: Mitigate threats / Reduce mortality

Objectives and Expected Results

    • Improve the knowledge on the impact of contaminants (lead & veterinary drugs) on the Cinereous Vulture and develop tools to mitigate and regulate themSecure the permanent transition to non-lead ammunition in a significant area of the species range in Portugal
    • Improve the mechanisms of fight and prevention against illegal poisoning in Portugal
    • Raise awareness of key-actors on contaminants to mitigate its effect on Cinereous Vulture conservation
    • 2 new anti-poisoning dog units within the Portuguese police established in Central Portugal, in an area key to at least 3 of the Portuguese breeding colonies (Douro, Malcata, Tejo), that will enhance the implementation of the national anti-poisoning programme, and will reduce mortality due to poisoning
    • Transition to non-lead ammunition secured in 14 areas (28,380ha) within the Cinereous Vulture distribution range in Portugal, covering a total of 300 hunters, and thus minimising the risk of lead poisoning
    • At least 30% of poisoning cases detected in the project area generate an official investigation (in which project beneficiaries formally assist in the procedures) and 1-2 reach court

Milestone Number

Milestone Name

Lead Beneficiary

Description

Progress

MS9

Two dog units established and operational

GNR

Two dog units, each one with one dog, established, with proper housing constructed in GNR facilities in Guarda, after a period of training

Training completed by December 2023

Deliverable No

Deliverable Name

Lead Beneficiary

Description

Progress

D5.1

Two reports (mid-term and final) of poisoning cases detected within project area and their judiciary follow up)

VCF, GNR, SPEA

Summary of all poisoning cases detected within project area, including results of analysis, judiciary follow up, outputs, etc, in electronic format and in English

Reports to be produced by December 2027

D5.2

Final report evaluating results of the demonstrative use of non-lead ammunition

ANPC

Report summarising the main results of the actions to promote the usage of non-lead ammunition, and recommendations for a permanent ban, in electronic format and in English

Report to be produced by December 2027

Work Package 6: Monitoring and evaluation

Objectives and Expected Results

  • Consolidate our understanding of the benefits of Cinereous Vultures for ecosystem functioning and human well-being Monitoring the impact of all project conservation tasks

  • Double the breeding population in Portugal from 40 pairs in 4 colonies to at least 80 pairs in at least 5 sites (one new one) Increase the breeding success, currently at 0,38 in Portugal, to 0,5+

  • Enhance the connectivity between colonies (also with Spain)

  • Improvement of the conservation status of the CV in Portugal – downgrade the national status from Critically Endangered to Endangered by the end of the project. Assess the social-economic impact of all project tasks
Milestone NoMilestone NameLead BeneficiaryDescriptionProgress
MS10Tagging of 60 CVsVCFGoal to tag 60 Cinereous Vultures – 20 released through soft-release and 40 captured in the wildAll 60 vultures to be equipped with GPS-tags by December 2027
D 6.1Ecosystems service studyVCFReport presenting the results of the study in electronic formatJanuary 2025
D 6.2Evaluation of impacts of the project on Cinereous Vulture population size, breeding productivity and viability in PortugalVCFReport presenting the results of the impact of the project on the Portuguese population of CV, in electronic format and in EnglishDecember 2027
D.6.3KPI tableSPEAExtract of the KPI table produced at the beginning of the project. All in English, and in the LIFE portalTo be produced by June 2023
D.6.4

Standard Data Forms for PTZPE0039 and

PTZPE0037 updated

VCFSDFs will be updated to include the Cinereous Vulture in section 3.2 of the forms. In English, on the Natura 2000 website and in Portuguese at the ICNF websiteTo be updated by December 2027
D.6.5Socio-economic evaluation reportSPEAReport presenting the results of the study in electronic formatTo be completed by December 2027
D.6.6KPI tableSPEAExtract of the KPI table produced at the end of the project. All in English, and in the LIFE portalTo be produced by December 2027

Work Package 7: Sustainability, replication and exploitation of project results

Objectives and expected results

 
  • Strengthen the cooperation between Portugal and Spain regarding the conservation of the Cinereous Vulture, notably at the level of hunters, wildlife rehabilitation centres, competent veterinary authorities and environmental police, through a series of exchange visits and networking that will enhance future collaborations

  • Raise awareness of the general public and key-actors (policy-makers, veterinaries, livestock producers, hunters, forest industry, tourism operators and media) about Cinereous Vulture conservation and many of the issues described above. We aim to reach at least 20,000 people with the project website, and have a minimum of 600,000 social media impressions with posts about the project. Several thousand people belonging to a number of targeted stakeholder groups clearly identified will also be further engaged in Cinereous Vulture

  • Develop and/or enhance in-country capacity for the sustainable conservation of the Cinereous Vulture and other scavenger species, notably through the mainstreaming of the project outputs, results and best-practice in a number of national strategies and plans (see below for further details).

Milestone No

Milestone NameLead BeneficiaryDescriptionProgress
MS11Production of the communication toolsVCFProduction of project pins, sticker, T-shirt, vests  and roll-ups bannersTo be produced and distributed by December 2024
MS12Project website and social media channelsVCFProduction of the project website and social media channelsCompleted by January 2023
Deliverable NoDeliverable NameLead BeneficiaryDescriptionProgress
D7.1Documentary film and 2 animation videosVCFFilms in English will be widely disseminated

Animation videos to be produced by December 2023

Documentary film do be produced by June 2027

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