Protecting cranes in Spain

Extemadura Bird paradise – winter home of Cranes

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Every year around 70 000 cranes arrive to winter in the Southwest of Spain. They are believed to bring good luck: when they return the local people celebrate with festivities and organise tours to see the cranes. Right into the 1970s most of the cranes still moved on to winter quarters in Africa after a stop-over on the Iberian peninsula. But today many cranes – those which migrate along the so-called western route - stay here in the steppes and oak groves of Extremadura. Because here the large birds find a habitat suited to them and sufficient forage.

Protecting the habitat
EuroNatur has campaigned since the 1990s for the protection of cranes in Extremadura. Our foundation focusses in particular on the protection of the species-rich Cork and Holm oak groves , known as dehesas. This landscape with its age-old culture which is so typical of Andalusia and Extremadura offers a habitat and a refuge for cranes and numerous other rare species.


What EuroNatur is doing to protect cranes in Spain:

  • Exerting pressure: we are campaigning by means of nature conservation lobbying on national and European levels for the preservation of traditional forms of farming such as the dehesas farming and transhumance.
  • Developing and implementing model projects: in cooperation with our partners we are working on a comprehensive model project for the protection of cranes in Extremadura.


What we have so far achieved- a selection of successes

  • A scientific foundation has been created: Adenex, a EuroNatur partner, has collected comprehensive data on land use at the different wintering sites in Extremadura and has published the results in an atlas which impressively illustrates the dangers facing cranes.
  • Habitats now secured: We negotiated an agreement with land owners in Extremadura whereby they set up their private lands as protected areas. With purchase and leasing contracts a network of 110 private crane protection areas has been created.
  • Habitats now enhanced: We have given our partners financial support acting as rangers, taking part in planting projects and maintenance work in crane reserves. Our involvement made it possible to carry out many measures to improve the biotope.
  • Development of effective protection measures: In cooperation with EuroNatur the Fundación Monte Mediterráneo (FMM) developed a catalogue of suggestions for support programmes with which traditional dehesa farming is to be supported. The work has borne fruit: in 2006 the Regional Government of Andalusia enshrined  important elements of the catalogue in law.
  • Passing on knowledge: Together with our partners we counsel and train farmers and representatives of local government in managing the dehesas properly and discuss future perspectives of dehesa farming.

Partners : Adenex, Fundación Monte Mediterráneo (FMM), CBD Hábitat

Sponsors: German Lufthansa Environmental Sponsorship, EuroNatur donors and sponsors

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