Abundance of black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) and European green woodpecker (Picus viridis) will be assessed in 3 hungarian and 3 romanian Special Protection Areas. These cavity maker woodpecker species have outstanding importance in providing natural nesting sites for rollers. Territories of woodpeckers will be mapped, followed by characterization of habitat and nest site selection by examination of food availability, species of the nesting tree, cavity characteristic, age and size of the forest and management of the habitat.
Roller territories and natural nesting sites will also be registered with their main parameters, such as cavity characteristics, location and species of the nesting tree.
Based on these results, habitat and forest management guidelines will be elaborated and delivered to the concerning authorities. Suggested management methods will ensure the conservation of further secondary cavity nesters, such as hoopooe (Upupa epops), Eurasian wryneck (Jynx torquilla), scops owl (Otus scops) and little owl (Athene noctua).
Results of the study will also be incorporated into the Hungarian National Action Plan for rollers.
Previously installed artificial nestboxes will be mapped in the Special Protection Areas affected by the project, accompanied by registration of low quality boxes with high risk of nesting failure. In Romania, further suitable habitats will be identified and selected for nestbox mounting.
During data collection, main parameters of roller nesting will be registered, such as occupancy rate and numbers of breeding pairs, successful pairs and fledglings. All recorded data will be summarized into an integrated database. By analysis of results, we can define roller’s potential range expansion to help the cost-effective conservation planning.
Based on results and experiences of the study, a handbook of nestbox installation methods will be prepared.
More than 10 years have passed since the background document (Haraszthy, 2003), used by Birdlife Hungary for planning roller conservation was developed. After revising the recent document by utilization of project results, the National Action Plan for rollers will be prepared by 2019.
Elaboration of the action plan will be carried out by the Roller Conservation Workgroup of Birdlife Hungary, including experts from Ministry of Rural Development, concerning national parks, local authorities and Birdlife Hungary.
A two-day workshop will be organized for group members to promote the exchange of experiences and to summarize of actual threats to rollers. Participants will then start to compile the draft structure of the action plan.
The final National Action Plan will be submitted to the Ministry of Rural Development for formal approval. The officially adopted action plan will be printed in 500 copies and distributed to relevant stakeholders, moreover it will be available on websites of the project and Ministry of Rural Development.
An integrated monitoring plan will be prepared to harmonize acitivites in different project sites, ensuring the proper scientific and technical implementation of surveys.
Project staff and volunteers will take part in an education and a field training before the first field season, where participants can acquire methods of data collecting and get detailed maps and time schedules of different monitoring acitivites.
A business plan of a sustainable management will be developed for the Roller Visitor Center, containing feasible business goals and plans for their implementation. A further management plan will define the necessary PR and advertising strategies to reach the target groups of the visitor center.
The business plan and management study will be prepared by a consultant subcontractor.
Restoration of 3 habitat types will be demonstrated in different sites during the project. Reconstruction of steppe habitats will be carried out in Alsó-Tisza-völgy Special Protection Area near Sándorfalva. Habitats are maintained by Kiskunság National Park.
Invasive tree species will be eliminated by herbicide treatment and special machinery in project sites. Invasive species, most of all oleaster (Elaeagnus angustifolia) excessively endanger roller habitat.
Artificial channels, dams and floodgates will be eliminated in the area in order to restore the original micromorphological and hydrological conditions.
Grazing by Hungarian grey cattles will ensure the sustainable maintenance of the restored steppe habitats.
Restoration of wooded pastures will be demonstrated in Borsodi-sík Special Protection Area. In habitats maintained by Bükk National Park, degraded parts of a salt steppe oak forest will be reconstructed and transformed into suitable breeding and foraging habitats for rollers.
Populations of oleaster, the most problematic invasive tree species of the area will be removed by herbicide treatment and special machinery. Eliminated oleasters will then be replaced by plantation of native tree species, such as pedunculate oak (Quercus robur), grey poplar (Populus canescens), white willow (Salix alba), field maple (Acer campestre), and Hungarian narrow-leafed ash (Fraxinus angustifolia subsp. pannonica).
Grazing by Hungarian grey cattles will ensure the sustainable maintenance of the restored wooded pastures.
105 hectares of a riparian forest along Tisza river will be transformed into suitable breeding and foraging habitat for rollers. Gallery forests used to be an outstanding breeding area for rollers, and it was the first habitat type where roller population started to decline caused by changes in forest management practices.
Riparian forest of the project site is located in Alsó-Tisza-völgy Special Peotection Area and maintained by Délalföldi Forestry Close Corporation Ltd. Invasive tree species, such as green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), ash maple (Acer negundo), and false indigo bush (Amorpha fruticosa) will be eliminated by herbicide treatment and special machinery, creating meadow patches as suitable foraging sites for rollers. Destroyed trees will be replaced by plantation of native softwood tree species, such as white wilow (Salix alba), white poplar (Populus alba) and black poplar (Populus nigra). Until saplings grow, installation of artificial nestboxes will provide nesting sites for rollers.
Sustainable management of the restored riparian forest will be ensured by mowing.
A significant proportion of previously installed artificial nestboxes has become obsolete. These boxes endanger the breeding success of rollers, sometimes even risk injury of adult birds. Hence low quality nestboxes registered during the preparatory actions will be replaced in Special Protection Areas of the project.
Further new nestboxes will be installed, including a new box tpye with an extremely long lifespan.
In Hungary, artificial cavities will be made in suitable older trees by a special drilling machine. These cavities, just like natural holes, will serve as nesting sites for rollers.
In romanian Special Protection Areas, artificial nesboxes will be mounted on poles of medium voltage overhead networks and previously erected wooden poles due to the absence of trees in the area.
Artificial nestboxes will be mounted according to the handbook of nestbox installation developed in preparatory actions. Coordinates and main parameters of each box will be recorded in a database.
Despite the installation of artificial nestboxes, presence of natural nesting sites is essential. Hence forest patches, tree lines and solitary trees will be planted to secure long-term subsistence of rollers in Hungarian and Romanian project sites.
In Hungary, plantation of trees will be carried out in Alsó-Tisza-völgy, Borsodi-sík and Hevesi-sík Special Protection Areas. In Romania, habitats suitable for plantation still need to be mapped and selected.
Successful plantation of native softwood tree species will be ensured by individual protection and maintenance of seedlings and saplings. Data of planted forest patches and tree lines will be summarized into a GIS (geographic information system) database.
A voluntary network will be established to involve those farmers who are interested in the conservation of roller. 60 Hungarian and 40 Romanian voluntary farmers will join the programme.
All participants will obtain native tree saplings, artificial nestboxes, mounting poles and perching poles to ensure suitable breeding and foraging habitat for rollers in their own land.
Constant professional advisement and coordonation will be provided by experts of Birdlife Hungary and Milvus Group.
Several workshops will be organized for participants to promote nature-friendly agricultural technologies and management.
Number of insulated pylons in medium voltage overhead networks of Romania is really limited. However, in areas with no trees, these pylons are the only places for mounting artificial nestboxes for rollers.
Selected pylons will be mapped and insulated before the mounting of nestboxes. In following years, complete dangerous medium voltage transmission lines will be insulated in Special Protection Areas of Romania.
Exact migrating routes and wintering sites of the roller population in the Carpathian Basin are barely known, thus threats of migration are still undiscovered.
Marking of rollers with metal and coloured plastic rings will continue during the project. Advantage of the coloured rings is the clearly visible code, allowing experts to identify birds by telescope or a photograph, without capture of the individual.
To reveal migratory areas of the species, rollers from the Carpathian Basin will be equipped for the first time with PTT trackers and geolocators. PTT can transmit data constantly via satellite systems. 30 adult birds from Hungary and 10 from Romania will be equipped with these trackers.
Geolocators record the lenght of daylight and the exact time of dawn and dusk, in order to calculate latitude and longitude position based on timing differences of daylight in different places of the Earth. 30 adult birds from Hungary and 50 from Romania will be equipped with geolocators. Equipped birds will be recaptured in subsequent years in order to download data from these devices.
Birdlife partner organizations of Serbia, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Israel also take part in the project. Based on data evaluation, the newly discovered stopover sites will be mapped by experts of local organizations in order to reveal threats for rollers. Given the threatening factors, partner organizations can take the first steps to protect rollers on their flyways by raising the awareness of the local community and decision makers.
Loss of suitable nesting sites is one of the main causes of recent decline of roller populations. Illegal logging of trees is a critical problem in Romania, thus regular inspections will be carried out on selected standard routes by local experts. Detected logging activities will be monitored, documented and reported to responsible authorities.
The impacts of these activities on illegal logging will be assessed, and collected data will be used to raise public awareness in order to prevent illegal logging in the long term.
The results of habitat reconstruction actions will be evaluated by scientific analysis of alterations in project sites. Data will be collected about home range size, foraging habitat use, foraging efficiency, and prey abundance.
The monitoring scheme consists of two main surveys. The first measurement will be performed in the first breeding season to get baseline data before reconstruction. The second measurement will be carried out following restoration works to provide data about changes compared to baseline results.
During the first and the second surveys, 10-10 birds will be equipped with special trackers in each project sites. Devices will give exact information about foraging activity and habitat preference of rollers. Birds are expected to use reconstructed habitats more frequently.
To follow changes in the roller population, nestboxes and artificial cavities will be monitored during the project.
Existing nesting sites will be mapped in 2015. Results of 2018-2019 monitorings will be compared to the baseline data to show changes in roller population.
Measurements will be performed by same protocols, based on examination of occupancy rate and numbers of breeding pairs, successful pairs and fledglings.
Surveys will be carried out by rangers of national parks, employees of the project and volunteers of Birdlife Hungary. In 2018-2019 an average of 50% occupancy rate is expected in both Hungarian and Romanian project sites.
Social and economical impacts of the project will be monitored in order to assess opinions of local inhabitants, farms and companies concerned in management of roller habitats. Regional and nationwide organizations maintaining Natura 2000 sites are also part of the target group. The above mentioned groups are sharing natural resources with rollers, thus their interests are directly affected by actions aiming the long term conservation of rollers.
The project will deliver certain benefits to local communities even if they are not concerned in management of habitats. Short term employment will be provided to inhabitants living near Special Protection Areas. Furthermore, the richer biodiversity achieved by the project, will have a positive affect on people’s life quality.
Monitoring of economical, social and sentimental impacts will be implemented with questionnaries and analyzed by subcontracted experts. Results will provide information about changes in opinions of target groups regarding rollers, the project and the Natura 2000 system.
Consultants will perform surveys in every year to continuously monitor the impacts of the project actions.
In Romania, efficacy of pylon insulation will be assessed by measuring mortality caused by electrocution. A baseline survey of electrocuted birds will be carried out in 2015, followed by a second monitoring after insulation between 2016 and 2019. Efficacy of insulation will be assessed by comparison of survey results.
Altough remarkable proportion of pylons are insulated in Hungary, their efficacy regarding rollers is still unknown. Therefore, measurements will be performed in 2015 and 2019 to assess quality and durability of insulation, as well as rate of mortality caused by electrocution along transmission lines in roller habitats.
Applied habitat management techniques and their results will be demonstrated to stakeholders – farmers, foresters, participants of Farmers for Rollers program – to widely promote the application of roller friendly land management techniques. Demonstration workshops will be held at locations of habitat reconstructions:
- restoration of steppe habitats (Alsó-Tisza-völgy Special Protection Area)
- restoration of wooded pastures (Borsodi-sík Special Protection Area)
- restoration of riparian forests (Alsó-Tisza-völgy Special Protection Area)
The first workshops and field trips will present the initial condition of project sites, then following events will demonstrate the results of habitat reconstructions and their effect on roller population.
Project results will also be presented at 3 major professional events. Annual events, such as the Hungarian Great Plain Animal Husbandry and Agricultural Days (250.000 visitor / year) provide opportunity to reach a larger audience, thus presence in these events will ensure the nationwide dissemination of project results.
These results will also be demonstrated in further local events, where landowners, who are interested in bird conservation, buta re not professional farmers, can learn about habitat management methods. Further nonspecial target groups, such as students, and local people will also become aware of the presented techniques. Altogether 20 presentations will be held on local events by project staff.
Forest patches, tree lines and solitary old trees considered as suitable breeding sites will be mapped in Hungarian Natura 2000 sites. The results will be summarized into a database. The level of illegal tree logging in romanian project sites will be assessed as part of the habitat conservation actions.
Professional meetings will be organized for main target groups – farmers, non-governmental organizations, local people – both in Hungary and in Romania to promote the Natura 2000 system, and roller friendly forest management. Leaflets and brochures will raise awareness on the importance of Natura 2000 sites, and the protection of forest patches and solitary trees.
A Roller Visitor Center will be developed next to Fehér-tó of Szeged (Hungary), in a site owned by Kiskunság Nationap Park. The location can be reached by car in 20 minutes from Szeged, and in 2 hours from Budapest.
The property is located less than a kilometre from Sándorfalva, it is part of the Landscape Protection Area of Pusztaszer as well as the Alsó-Tisza-völgy Special Protection Area. The site is surrounded by grassland, and the Fehér-tó a lake known as a bird reserve and Ramsar site with a variety of wildlife.
Accomodation will be ensured for 16-20 persons in attic rooms and for 10 persons in a common lodge. The visitor center will hold an exhibition room, displaying the conservation of rollers, the aims of the project, and the wildlife of the surrounding area. The exhibition room will be capable to be conversed into a conference room, accomodating up to 25 persons to hold demonstration events, professional meetings and small conferences. The visitor center will be the initial and terminal station of the educational trail developed in the Alsó-Tisza-völgy Special Protected Area. Furthermore, it will serve as a field base for controlling ornithological researches and nature conservation activities.
The surrounding habitat is an important breeding and foraging site, thus visitors can watch rollers immediately in the area of the visitor center without disturbing birds. The hot water and heating system will be based on renewable energy sources in order to develop an environmentally friendly building. The location can easily be reached by public transport also; it takes 15 minutes on foot to arrive from the nearest bus station, but next railway station is also located only 6 km from there. The Roller Visitor Center will be open for the public every weekend from April till November, at other times visitors can register via phone or the website of the visitor center.
18 information boards will be erected in Special Protection Areas affected by the project.
A 3 km long educational trail containing 10 informational boards will be developed in the Alsó-Tisza-völgy Special Protection Area. Visitors can walk the trail in 90-150 minutes, depending on their speed and interest. The Roller Visitor Center will serve as both initial and terminal station, containing a watchtower where visitors can view Fehér-tó and the project site of steppe habitat reconstruction.
A 2,7 km long educational trail containing 10 informational boards will also be developed in Borsodi-Mezőség Special Protection Area, including a special watchtower wich allows visitors to observe rollers and other birds in the canopy without causing any disturbance.
Several educational and promotional materials (leaflets, PR products) will help to raise awareness on the importance of roller conservation.
The project website will be updated with actual news and achievements during the project. Presence on the facebook.com website will help us reach young generations as well.
At the end of the project, a Layman’s report will be produced to summarize results and experiences of the project. The report will be available in 3 languages (Hungarian, Romanian, English) in both paper and electronic formats.
Actual news, achievments and problems will be constantly presented to the general public via several channels of the media.
3 press conferences will be organized to report about project starting, Roller Visitor Center opening and project finishing. Constant media coverage will be ensured by further monthly press releases available also on the project website.
A high definition documentary long film will be accomplished about rollers and the project, giving insight into the work of conservation experts. Further 10 pieces of 2 minutes short films will be made, to exhibit the life of rollers in detail. Long and short films will also be available on DVD for free.
Results of the project will be presented in several workshops, conferences and scientific journals.
The International Action Plan for rollers must be reviewed and updated every ten years. It will be accomplished within the project, based on results and experiences of the conservation actions. A three days conference will be organized for an initial professional consultation, with participation of international experts. Elaboration of the International Action Plan will be done by analysing results of other conservation actions.
4 workshops and 12 trainings will be organized in order to demonstrate proper installation of several bird protection tools, such as insulators and anti-collision systems. A technical brochure and its online version will be published and regularly updated to help widespread dissemination among target groups – electric companies, engineers, managers, conservation experts – concerned directly, or indirectly in the installation and maintenance of bird protection tools.
In 2008, Birdlife Hungary created a conflict map with assistance of national park experts and financed by Ministry of Environment and Water. The conflict map summarizes the most dangerous medium voltage transmission lines based on spatial distribution of electrocuted birds.
The conflict map will be actualized for rollers by further surveys, in order to achieve complete knowledge about the level and distribution of mortality caused by electrocution.
An efficient project management framework will ensure the successfull operation of the project and implementation of results, by employment of a full time project manager and a full time project administrator.
As part of the final report, an After LIFE conservation plan will be developed to ensure the long term sustainability of project results.
We will build up a professional network with implementers of other LIFE projects, in order to help constant communication, and mutually exchange experiences. The Birdlife International partnership is represented in 108 countries, providing a unique set of opportunities to make contanct with other projects.
Altogether 8 visits are planned to 4 different network partners in countries located along the migration routes of rollers. Stopover sites of migration routes will be examined during field trips in order to get substantial information, wich will help analyzing results of migration research.
According to the LIFE Common Provisions, financial monitoring will be implemented by external auditor during the whole period of the project.