AROUND SLOVAKIA

Bustards thrive from cross-border cooperation

Cross-border cooperation between Slovakia and Hungary is an integral part of the Eko-Plain-Net project involving Bratislava region, the Gyor-Moson-Sopron region of Hungary and environmental NGOs in analysing the environmental impacts of agricultural technologies. The project has been running for one and one-half years with a budget of around €400,000 and at a conference held in Bratislava in spring 2010, the international participants focused on the acute need to protect the Great Bustard, a bird that is among the globally-threatened species.

(Source: SITA)

Cross-border cooperation between Slovakia and Hungary is an integral part of the Eko-Plain-Net project involving Bratislava region, the Gyor-Moson-Sopron region of Hungary and environmental NGOs in analysing the environmental impacts of agricultural technologies. The project has been running for one and one-half years with a budget of around €400,000 and at a conference held in Bratislava in spring 2010, the international participants focused on the acute need to protect the Great Bustard, a bird that is among the globally-threatened species.

The Great Bustard is one of the heaviest flying birds and they have started to thrive in the protected bird sanctuary known as Sysľovské polia near Bratislava. Last year’s winter census of Great Bustards in the sanctuary found 246 birds overwintering there – the largest number in ten years. Bustards gather into larger flocks in winter in areas with sufficient food, quiet and safety. Sysľovské polia is one of the bustards’ traditional wintering grounds but it is also crucial for the wintering of the whole western-Pannonian bustard population of about 400, the TASR newswire wrote.

Great Bustards live in the Sysľovské polia area mainly in fields where rapeseed had been planted as this is an important source of winter food. Sowing of rapeseed this past year was made in cooperation with the local agricultural cooperative, Dunaj, in Rusovce.

The effort to prevent extinction of the Great Bustard led Slovakia to implement a project for the birds’ protection with support from the European Commission’s LIFE programme. According to Pavol Frešo, the president of the Bratislava Regional government, neighbourly cooperation in protecting nature and the environment can greatly improve relations between the two countries, TASR wrote, adding that eventually 300 fruit trees should be planted in Sysľovské polia to give food as well as natural protection to the Great Bustards. Sysľovské polia is part of the European network of protected areas designated under Natura 2000.

CAPTION(PO PHOTO): Chairman of the Slovak Club of Falconers at Slovak Hunters‘ Association Anton Moravčík at a press conference about Great Bustard in October 2010.

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