The development of an ‘Emergency’ campaign on monitoring and rescuing Montagu’s Harrier clutches, with priority given to protecting the bird and avoiding possible disturbances as much as possible.
The local group SEO-Salamanca was the first to launch the Harrier Campaign in 2009. SEO-Segovia joined the initiative in 2012 and since 2017 so did the local group SEO-Sierra Norte de Madrid. All of them work from April to early August to protect the nests of these birds of prey. Currently, several SEO/BirdLife volunteer groups work each season in collaboration with many farmers, all of whom have the required administrative permits. Together, they are able to protect up to 70% of the nestlings of this highly useful species in the fields in controlling pests that affect crops.
However, our data suggest that the number of offspring saved could be higher if harvesting is delayed. It is essential to have the support of farmers to make agricultural activity in cereal areas compatible with the conservation of biodiversity. Therefore, localization and rescue actions will be combined with other communication and environmental education activities. Conferences in schools, workshops, excursions and creation of teaching materials will complete the campaign.
To work on the political impact of the next reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is our main aim. Even if nests are marked, survival rate of chickens is very poor because the mark can be found easily for other predators. In this way, to promote a sustainable agricultural model, which makes economically viable farms compatible with conservation of ecosystems, is the main solution. The current harvest model does not respect the reproductive process of harriers, and the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) does not establish agricultural activity compatible with the conservation of harriers, which are considered endangered species under European legislation. Opportunities offered by local administrations in Spain in their Rural Development Programmers are a good way to work while the next reform of the CAP arrives.