LIFE Project


Background of the project

The project is focused on the three priority species listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) – greater spotted eagle, lesser spotted eagle and black stork. The greater spotted eagle is one of the most endangered species in Europe, which makes the protection of the 20-30 pairs of eagles nesting in Estonia very important. The numbers of black storks nesting in Estonia have decreased by half during the last twenty years. The lesser spotted eagle is distributed all over Estonian and the current population could be estimated as 500–600 pairs. Thus, the Estonian population is of European importance.

The primary threats to the preservation of these species are:

  • a lack of nesting places due to the decrease in the relative amount of natural old forest
  • disturbances during the nesting period
  • the worsening condition of feeding grounds (flood plains, meadows, streams)
  • a lack of public interest and awareness.

In order to guarantee the success of the project, the Estonian Ornithological Society is working in close cooperation with the following partners:
The main financer is the LIFE-Nature programme of the European Union. The project is co-financed by the Ministry of the Environment of the Republic of Estonia.

Main objectives

The primary objective of the project is to guarantee the survival of the endangered species of the black stork, the lesser spotted eagle and the greater spotted eagle in Estonia. For this purpose, attention is directed at preserving the habitats of these species, following the principles of nature-friendly management and increasing public awareness of the necessity of protecting eagles and the black stork.
Soomaa National Park, which once had flood plains suitable for the spotted eagles as feeding grounds, has been chosen as the pilot area for the project. During the project, it is hoped that the management of flood plains can be restored.
An important part of the project is to deal with landowners’ problems and to inform the public about the need for environmental protection.

Expected results

  • 2,800 ha of Natura 2000 biotopes (flood plains) restored and their future management organised, guaranteeing the preservation of the feeding biotopes of the greater spotted eagle, the lesser spotted eagle and the black stork in the pilot areas.
  • At least 65 ha of forested land purchased by the state. Measures implemented for the protection of the greater spotted eagle, the lesser spotted eagle and the black stork and action programmes for the species updated for the next five years.
  • Functioning international and national cooperation for the organisation of the preservation of the aforementioned species.
  • Increased public awareness of the protection and habitat requirements of species that are prioritised at the European level (eagles, black stork) – 10,000 booklets, 350 loose leaf publications for private landowners, an introductory video about eagles, an improved Internet website, and 45 seminars + 2 international conferences.
  • Suggestions/guidelines for the preservation of the habitats of the greater spotted eagle, the lesser spotted eagle and the black stork on private property.