The project



Better Life for Lesser Kestrel in South-East Balkans LIFE19 NAT/BG/001017
Project acronym: LIFE for Lesser Kestrel LIFE19 NAT/BG/001017


Bulgaria – All regions; Greece – Anatoliki Makedonia, Thraki Kentriki Makedonia,Thessalia


Start: 01/09/2020  -  End: 01/09/2025


Coordinating Beneficiary:  Green Balkans Stara Zagora, Bulgaria

Associated Beneficiaries: Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, Greece; University of Thessaly (Laboratory of Ecosystem and Biodiversity Management), Greece.


Key nature protection objectives:
  • Improve the species conservation status in BG  & GR (especially in N2K), also in SE Balkans.
  • Strengthen, stabilize and increase the new LK colony  in BG, to assist the natural expansion and re-colonisation.
  • Demonstrate and encourage the sustainable arable land management of foraging habitats of the LK in BG.
  • Replicate, develop & improve the best LK reinforcement practices in BG & GR, as well as transfer in EU & non-EU states, and further LIFE projects.

The overall goal is to expand the nesting distribution of LK:
  • Existence of independent colonies;
  • Strengthen the colonies in Greece;
  • Improve the capacity and knowledge;
  • Cooperation & networking – LK Balkan Expert Group.

Project actions

A. Preparatory actions
The preparatory actions, form the first and most important phase of the project, as they pave the way for the conservation actions that will follow. The optimal implementation of the conservation interventions requires the prior conduction of specific studies that will set the specifications. More specifically the preparatory actions will set the framework: for the management of the reedbed, for the control of an avian flu outbreak, for the establishment of a climate change resilient ecosystem protocol and resilient ecosystem, and finally for the use of cut reeds for other purposes.
A1           Project entry meetings
A2           Communication Strategy and Project Annual Action Plans
A3           Identification of model territories to establish hacking facilities in Bulgaria
A4           Identification of suitable method and SPAs for release of rescued Lesser Kestrel fledglings in Greece.
A5           Evaluation of Lesser Kestrel colonies, identification of suitable for nest boxes places and important species concentration hot spots in Northern Greece.
A6           Production of a Good Practice Guide for farmers

B. Land purchase or lease activities
In this group of activities it is planned to purchase agricultural lands in Bulgaria, which are important hunting areas for the Lesser Kestrel and other target species of NATURA 2000. The subsequent management and administration of these areas is the subject of conservation activities in the Project.
B1           Purchase of land - Lesser Kestrel feeding grounds in Sakar SPA, Bulgaria

C. Conservation activities
This group of activities is aimed directly at the conservation of the target species and its habitats. Activities such as field work, research and analysis, construction of structures for the release of Lesser Kestrel in nature and their raising in artificial conditions, improvement of nesting conditions, sustainable management of hunting areas, etc. are planned here. The choice of sites and approaches for release is based on both the Preparatory Activities carried out and the experience and capacity gained by the project partners. The expert potential of the project participants and best practices and demonstrated results from the implementation of other successful projects implemented under the LIFE Program of the European Union will be taken into account.
The Conservation activities are a step within a long-term strategy, in line with the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and the goal to Halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010 – and beyond. It is also in compliance with the Programme “Horizon 2020”. Targeted species could be used as an indicator concerning EU Environmental and Climate Policy.
C1           Searching for new colonies established in Bulgaria for their adequate conservation
С2- Lesser Kestrel reinforcement in Bulgaria using delayed release of adult birds
C3           Strengthening of the existing and establishment of new colonies in Bulgaria
C4           Securing young birds for release from the captive breeding stock of the Green Balkans Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Centre
C5           Model management of arable land in Bulgaria as Lesser Kestrels foraging grounds
C6           Ensuring Bulgarian colonies' genetical diversity
C7           Demonstration of best cultivation practices in North Eastern Greece.
C8           Placement of nest boxes in target SPAs of Northern Greece.
C9           Conservation implications of agrochemicals on Lesser Kestrel colonies in North Greece and Bulgaria
C10 Reinforcement of Lesser Kestrel population in Natura 2000 SPAs, in North Greece

D. Monitoring the impact of the project activities
These activities are aimed at evaluating and monitoring the results of the project, their effectiveness, potential ecosystem services, and positive socio-economic impact on local communities and authorities at several levels. In this regard, field research, bird tracking by means of modern satellite transmitters, mapping and description of colonies, and other observation and monitoring activities will be carried out. In addition, a survey of public opinion and attitudes is planned through targeted surveys of targeted local structures.
D1           Monitoring of LIFE Performance Indicators
D2           Monitoring of socio-economic impact of the project
D3           Monitoring of the project impact on ecosystems functions restoration

E. Public awareness and dissemination of the results
The project plans a wide public coverage and implementation of a series of information, educational and training activities. They target key groups of local partners, organizations and institutions, pupils, students and other stakeholders. In this regard, it relies on holding numerous face-to-face meetings, large-scale media coverage, including a specialized website for the purposes of the project, information packages and two information centers in the areas of project implementation. The holding of international expert meetings and the initiation of a Balkan expert group for the conservation of the Lesser Kestrel are also in the focus of these activities.
E1           Organizing Nature Academy in Bulgaria
E2           Developing demonstration and education facilities
E3           Training and project team capacity development, volunteer, institution employees and local community representatives
E4           Development of the Dissemination Pack, Bulgaria
E5           Networking with other LIFE and/or non-LIFE projects and participation in workshops/conferences
E6           Environmental education in schools of Northern Greece
E7           Dissemination, replication and transfer of project conservation results

F. Project Management
This group of activities is of the utmost importance for the work of the project team, the communication between the partners, the interaction with the competent institutions and other stakeholders. The overall implementation of the project will be monitored by the Project Monitoring Committee, as well as by regular meetings between the project partners, and last but not least internal meetings of the individual teams.
F1           Establishment and functioning of a Project Steering Group
F2           Project management and establishment of project team
F3           Preparation and signing of partnership agreements
F4           Preparation of financial, technical project reports and project audit
F5           LIFE performance indicators – table of progress
F6           Development of an After LIFE Action Plan



Conservation actions:
  • Increased 2 LK colonies, 1 new colony established, and 1 new colony discovered (>50 pairs total in BG). This way, the population in SE Bulgaria will be sustainably increased;
  • Captive breeding flock, facilities and capacity established at the WRBC of Green Balkans in Stara Zagora, BG;
  • Reinforcement experience from BG transferred to GR: a LK release facility to be constructed in Northern GR.
  • Links among the populations – satellite telemetry.
  • 15 ha of land purchased in BG; LK-friendly agriculture management practices introduced in Northeastern GR.

Communication and replication actions:
  • Project related university theses & trainings in BG;
  • 10 ,000 visitors at the WRBC & 1,500 visitors at the LK RA Module;
  • 5 thematic days & 5 “Green Farmer” Awards in BG;
  • 75 volunteers & 100 representatives of institutions trained in BG;
  • Lesser Kestrel Balkan Expert Group set up.