Implementation of various projects habitat management and prey species of large raptors (Bonelli's and Golden eagles) in the Catalan pre-coastal mountain range

In recent decades there has been a widespread loss of population and crop abandonment in Mediterranean mountains, which is causing some changes either in the structure of the landscape and in the presence or abundance of certain habitats and species. Due to the process of afforestation associated with this abandonment, most affected habitats were those related to agriculture, but also open forests, as dry grasslands and shrublands, which lead to the decrease of the patch landscape typical from mediterranean mountains.

These trends have caused the depletion of many prey species of large raptors, such as rabbits and partridges, which are also species of great interest for the hunting sector. Causally large raptors such as golden and, especially, Bonelli eagle, have been affected by this process, even disappearing some historically known couples.

Several projects focused on the recovery of habitats and prey species management developed by MN Consultants have been executed in recent years, with the aim of increasing the quality of the ranges of these raptors through the final density improvement of their main prey. In total we have applied management measures in 450 ha of land, applying direct handling of the vegetation in 35 ha.

These projects have been funded either in the field of management of protected natural areas or through compensatory measures from energy infrastructure and have been designed and performed along with experimental testing on scope and working methods in order to improve the management techniques used for both species (rabbit or partridge) and habitats.

So, the actions taken also sought to experimentally assess various management techniques, to test the adequacy of the developed effort in each work to the results obtained and, therefore, to assess the effectiveness and efficiency thereof. The following issues have been analyzed:

  • Type, size and number of burrows used in repopulation.
  • Effectiveness of various techniques (forest and agricultural) in habitat improvement in calcareous soils.
  • Management techniques and amount of either rabbits or partridges used in repopulation.

After several years from beginning to be implemented, monitoring and evaluation of projects has yielded very positive results. Among others, lessons learned indicate the need to begin work with the creation of areas with high density of rabbit, to allow settling and maintaining sustainable populations. Other important issues are unnecessary control of predators or a significant increase in the productivity of couples of Bonelli eagles, on which we have worked.

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