facebook youtube
sk | en | de | hu

Project activities

The project will carry out these activities with a brief description below. Activities are defined and marked according to the requirements of the LIFE program, through which the project is funded. We will inform you about the results of ongoing activities at this project website.

A. Preparatory actions, elaboration of management plans and/or of action plans

A.1: Expert study on restoration of steep river banks and nesting walls

Basis for this study is mapping of the project area and selection of particular localities for restoration. In case of steep river banks (first part) the study will be elaborated on the basis of historical data about nesting of target species and current hydrological conditions. The second part of the expert study will be dedicated to the selection of the most suitable localities for the restoration of the nesting loess and clay-sandy walls outside the inundation zone.

 A.2: Expert study on restoration of selected river branch systems

Expert study will specify the most perspective river branch systems and/ or river branches for restoration from the proposed preselected river branch systems. If needed hydrological and mathematical model of river branch systems will be elaborated. As the second step detailed technical documentation for specific actions including geodetic survey will be elaborated.

A.3: Expert study on restoration of riparian forest stands and vegetation

The study includes mapping of possible places for planting of native trees in the project site, especially near the river branch systems, as well as the presence of the old native tree species in the large plantations of hybrid poplars and other commercially planted species and forest stands near areas where Kingfisher occurs. 

A.4: Expert study on restoration of feeding habitats of target bird species

Expert study on restoration of wetlands, small periodically flooded terrain depressions and grazed grassland habitats in the vicinity of nesting sites of target bird species will be a base for works aimed at restoration of currently missing feeding habitats.

B. Purchase and/or long-term lease of land

B.1: Purchase and/or long-term lease of land

Land will be purchased (65 ha) and leased (40 ha) especially in strategic locations important for target bird species – for their nesting, feeding, resting or as buffer zones for protection of their nesting localities; targeted land includes natural habitats or degraded land with high restoration potential.

C. Specific conservation actions

C.1: Restoration of steep river banks and nesting walls

During the 19th and 20th century, significant part of the river banks of Danube and Morava rivers in were insensitively embanked by heavy stones what caused a loss of natural nesting habitats for Sand Martin, Kingfisher (e.g. high steep exposed river banks) and on some sites also for European Bee-eater (e.g. loess and clay-sandy exposed terraces). Plenty of suitable habitats were degraded gradually according to intensified sedimentation of transported material which is a consequence of artificially changed water regime.

Our goal is to restore nesting places in steep banks by removal of embankment made of heavy stones on several sections where natural erosion will not negatively influence human activity and on the other hand can bring positive changes for original animal species. These actions include the main flow of the Danube as well as Morava. The second part of the activity is focused on restoration of loess and clay-sandy terraces or river banks which represent natural nesting habitat for European Bee-eater/Sand Martin.

C.2: Restoration of river branch systems for natural restoration and long-term maintenance of nesting habitats of steep river banks

Complete change of water regime river branch system of inland Danube delta due to their separation from the main stream (19th and 20th century) caused the loss of the natural dynamics and disappearance of some habitats of the Danube river ecosystems in Slovakia. At the same time this modification has caused gradual degradation leading to the complete disappearance of the target species nesting options due to increased sedimentation rate and subsequent overgrowing of natural vertical riverbanks by vegetation.

Based on the results of an expert study (A.2) and in collaboration with experts from different fields (State nature protection, water management, zoology, ecology and others) will be restored water regime of several originally flowing side river branches of Danube or whole river branch systems. Based on detailed technical documentation an isolated section of the shoulder systems shall be linked together, side arms will be connected to the main flow of the Danube, existing barriers in the flow will be removed or modified. These measures will help to restore the natural dynamics of the hydrological regime, leading in turn to natural regeneration and especially long-term maintenance of the target species breeding habitats with positive effects for many original animal and plant species of Danube. As the number of potential sites is beyond the scope of this project, recovery will be selected for those with the greatest potential.

C.3: Protection and restoration of riparian forest stands and vegetation in the nesting habitats of Kingfisher

Nature of much riparian vegetation has changed significantly as a result of radical changes in the hydrological regime. As a consequence of the loss of water dynamics its impact on bank growth and the natural bank erosion disappeared including the formation of nesting opportunities for Kingfisher. As a result of the shortage of exposed steep river banks Kingfisher was forced to find alternative ways of nesting in the root system of uprooted old trees. Suitable riparian vegetation can provide secondary options for nesting and gathering of food (perching on branches above the water). However intensive forest management significantly reduced the appearance of natural riparian vegetation and management methods in close proximity to river branch systems and wetlands negatively affect their character as well as an important biological function.

Within this activity the original old trees located directly or in close proximity to riparian vegetation will be sought and subsequently labelled. The uprooted trees will be labelled too, the maintenance of which will be communicated to owners /users of the mentioned vegetation cover/ land. The aim is to protect such trees from logging or removal especially in the areas where there may be no other possibilities to restore the natural habitat of this species. To improve the condition of the natural riparian vegetation the bush and invasive species will be removed, which by their dense overgrown prevent the target species from using the land. Afterwards, the appropriate mix of native tree species will be planted in the vicinity of river branches in the territory.

C.4: Restoration of feeding habitats of target bird species

Within this action is planned restoration of feeding habitats placed near the nesting habitats. The attention will be paid to small marshes, bogs, terrain depressions and grasslands (by supporting of grazing and restoring of lowland meadows).

Wetlands will be renewed in places of former marshy areas that have been dried by man or will be newly created close to the nesting sites. Wetlands will be restored by opening the original inlet areas that were covered, digging the new supply channels or else changing filling facilities if necessary. Technical objects (sluice-gates) will be used to retain water and to regulate water levels.

Besides these actions, in the framework of this activity will be assessed food preference of European Bee-eater as well as the possible impact of this species on the bees. Based on the results of this survey as well as the summary of known data from the literature will be defined recommendations for beekeepers.

C.5: Protection of nesting sites of target bird species

Protection measures include: fencing of nesting sites, closing of access roads, installation of caution and prohibition signs, camera security control and monitoring and seasonal sand and gravel extraction regulation. The aim of these actions is to reduce human activity in sites where these valuable species are nesting and so ensure their successful nesting.

D. Monitoring of the impact of the project actions

D.1: Monitoring of target species

1) detailed monitoring of populations of target species will be held within the project area prior to the implementation of restoration measures. The outputs of this monitoring will characterize the state of populations before the implementation of restoration measures. Following the beginning of the restoration measures annually mapping of populations of target species will be carried out including the monitoring of the state of suitable breeding habitats and counting breeding pairs. The results of this monitoring will be linked to the locations at which will be implemented various measures and will serve to evaluate the benefits of implemented activities.

2) the research of feeding behaviour and food composition of European Bee-eater by using appropriate non-invasive techniques

3) on the places where water and wetland habitats will be restored within concrete conservation measure we will continuously monitor fish species composition as indicators of ecological state of the localities

D.2: Monitoring of the socio-economic impact of the project actions

Project activities will be implemented in five areas (SPAs). Their nature will affect the range of socio-economic indicators. Monitoring of the socio-economic impact of the project activities will be prepared by specialists using standard methods and will be evaluated using adequate statistical methods. After the project end it will be possible to detect changes of the attractiveness of the area not only for tourists but also locals. The result of this activity will be monitoring report mapping the socio-economic impact of project activities on the local economy and population.

E. Public awareness and dissemination of results

E.1: Project website

Via the web site in three languages (Slovak, English and Hungarian) will be possible for the general public, professionals, students as well as representatives of interested groups of citizens (stakeholders) be acquainted with information about the project activities and results as well as the target species and the project area.

E.2: Communication and meetings with key stakeholders

As part of activities there will be organized meetings with all relevant groups of interested citizens (stakeholders) as representatives of municipalities, owners and land users and public authorities (regional and district environmental offices, regional and district forest offices, state and municipal police, Slovak Environmental Inspection etc.). At these meetings current project area conservation problems will be discussed with involved organizations. This activity will be carried out regularly throughout the project period.

E.3: Installation of information panels

A total of 10 information panels will be placed at strategic locations of the project area. Panels will provide comprehensive information on project activities, floodplain ecosystems and their bird populations. There will also be information about the local nature conservation, particularly in the context of the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives. Information will be preferably in the Slovak language, but also in Hungarian, German and English, and most particularly in cases/areas where it will be suitable. This activity will be implemented gradually throughout the project. The panels will also include information on the Natura 2000 network, including logos Natura 2000 and the LIFE + program and information on its importance and role in the protection of European landscapes and natural heritage.

E.4: Publishing of information, educational and promotional materials

To increase awareness of different target groups will be prepared leaflets, brochures, stickers, calendars, memory game and many other materials. Brochures and leaflets will be published in Slovak, English and Hungarian.

Information materials will be drawn focusing mainly on the professional public and experts in the field, members of the institutions concerned (staff offices, State nature protection, members of other non-governmental organizations) who can benefit from the experience and results obtained within the project. Information materials will be designed so that they will be a benefit also for stakeholders such as foresters, farmers, beekeepers, owners and land users, local residents, hunters, etc.).

Educational and promotional materials will be distributed also to the wider public (including children and students), focusing mainly on visitors in the NATURA 2000 sites with an effort to explain the impact of their behaviour on the valuable habitats and species of the protected areas.

E.5: Documentary film

The film will be made about the target species and the relationship to their habitats and threats which are threatening their population. In the film we would like to bring closer the basic biology of species including their ecological strategies and natural habitat requirements. Part of the film will stress the examples of optimal nesting habitats and negative factors and actions causing their endangerment and decrease in population number. The individual situation before restoration of habitats, examples of restoration works and of habitats after their recovery for comparison will also be shown. Via the document we present the current situation of these species and their habitats (nesting and feeding) in the Danube-Moravian region and emphasize the need for their protection. Part of the film will be devoted to LIFE + project, its purpose, its achievements, restoration measures, monitoring of the objectives and the overall concept of Natura 2000. The film will be presented in the media, on the website, distributed on DVD to the public and stakeholders. It will be produced in three languages version (Slovak, English and Hungarian).

E.6: Exhibition

The exhibition will show to public in a very effective way the importance of the protection of the targeted species and habitats. It will be focused on the ecology of Kingfisher, Sand Martin and European Bee-eater. It will explain interesting facts of their lives in attractive way – nesting, migration, looking for food and at the same time will explain specific nesting and feeding habitat requirements of particular species. Within the exhibition, basic factors threatening the life of these birds will be presented. The exhibition will contain diverse interactive components designated for diverse age categories. Part of the exhibition will also be an interactive game through which participants can try to be in the shoes of Kingfisher, European Bee-eater or Sand Martin.

The exhibition will have a traveling character - during the project it will be installed at several locations within Slovakia, Hungary eventually Czech Republic or Austria in the first phase, especially in places that are somehow related to the project area. Gradually, the exhibition will tour all significant centres that have similar activities in its program and at the same time focus on environmental education and popularisation of nature protection including cross-border region.

E.7: Presentations and field excursions for schools and public

Within this activity numerous presentations and field excursions for schools and public will be organized. The professional guides will guarantee an excellent level of excursions, of information about the project, project area, target species and the system of protected areas Natura 2000 as well as the objectives and the opportunities provided by the European Commission under the LIFE. The quality and experience of lecturers and guides will ensure the participants will get first-rate information and pleasant experience (professional presentation, answering questions, guidance at the most attractive natural sites within the project area, wildlife observation, etc.). Guides will also supervise a compliance with the rules of behaviour in nature during excursions. For each group of participants will be selected different intensity and duration of lectures and in case of excursions will be selected routes with varying degrees of difficulty. There will also be an offer of attractive excursions by boat or bicycle together with bird watching.

During presentations for students and the public will be used modern audio-visual equipment (slide show, sounds and video records). Lectures for students will contain except the information about the project and Natura 2000 also contain information on target species and their biology and will be presented in attractive way - including illustration of basic research, the identification of the species, of the bird parasites, etc.

This activity will be implemented throughout the entire duration of the project.

E.8: Promotion of project on conferences and in media

This activity includes two main parts: (1) propagation of the project on conferences and (2) in media. The project will be presented to expert audience during conferences and expert meetings and also to wide public via media. Promotion of the project, its objectives, methods and conservation achievements are useful for obtaining higher support for the implementation of the project within the local population and the overall increase of public awareness. Conferences will be held in the project countries and elsewhere abroad. Regular contact with the media - newspapers, magazines, radio, television at local, regional and national levels will be introduced. Information for the press will be published regularly through press releases, media briefings, interviews, news reports from the field, etc. Media outputs will promote the project and its objectives. This activity will be carried out throughout the entire duration of the project. Media outputs will also be updated on the website of the project.

F. Overall project operation and monitoring of the project progress

F.1: Project management

This activity will be provided for overall management of the project by the project manager, assistant and other positions in the project. Project staff will be employed throughout the entire duration of the project. External subcontractors, suppliers of goods and services will be selected by public tender following the timetable of implementation of the project. Project Office is based in Bratislava. At the beginning of the project the Project Steering Committee will be appointed from representatives of the project partners and representatives of the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic, an independent scientific authority, the Ministry of Environment and key stakeholders (e.g. SVP) who will oversee the entire course of the project .

F.2: Project bookkeeping and financial management

This activity is necessary to ensure overall project bookkeeping and preparing accounting documents for monitoring reports and project reports as well as documents for audit.

F.3: Networking with other projects and institutions

This activity is focused on networking of the project staff with staff of similar ongoing and completed projects. As part of the mutual visits will project staff exchange experience in implementing of different approaches to tackle similar conservation issues and consider options, pros and cons of the proposed project activities. There will be an opportunity to discuss different approaches with more experienced and less experienced partners and thus avoid failure of the proposed activities under the project or help the partners to prevent their failures and errors. The cooperation will be established with similar projects focusing on endangered bird species, rivers, wetlands and floodplain forests and project visits will be carried out. Protected areas with similar problems, natural conditions and socio-economic background will be selected for networking. Therefore, projects along the Danube and Morava will be preferred. The proposed project solutions will be discussed with experts from other project areas. Many experiences will be presented to key stakeholders and authorities. This activity will be carried out throughout the entire duration of the project.

F.4: Project auditing

All financial statements for the European Commission will be verified by an independent auditor. This activity will be carried out throughout the entire duration of the project since the nomination of an independent auditor.

F.5: After-LIFE conservation plan

At the end of the project will be prepared document - "Protection plan after the project end" which will describe the continuation of project activities after they are finalized to ensure long-term protection of undertaken measures, target species and their habitats in the project area.