Project for the conservation of the monk seal in Madeira, Portugal

Our “LIFE Madeira Monk Seal Project” (LIFE13NAT/ES/000974 “Madeiramonkseal”) is coming to an end. The project, executed by Fundación CBD-Hábitat together with Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza, RAM from 2014 until the end of 2019, has achieved impressive results in monk seal conservation at Madeira archipelago.

The main objective of the Project is to improve awareness and conserve the monk seal in the Madeira archipelago in order to ensure its long-term survival.

The main aims of the “LIFE Madeira Monk Seal” project have been:

  • To provide greater protection for the sites used by the monk seal.
  • Reduce the threat and disturbance caused by fishermen, tourism operators, tourists, and the general population.
  • Increase the Madeira Natural Park Service’s capacity to intervene in the event of threats or dangers to the seals and adopt a conservation plan for the monk seal in Madeira.
  • Develop a conservation status surveillance system for the species and its habitat in Madeira, using non-invasive methods.

The project results and the presentation of the Monk Seal Conservation Action Plan at Madeira will be presented today 27th of november in Funchal, Madeira.

More information:

Ethnology of the Bijagó culture, Guinea Bissau

In addition to the natural heritage, the Bijagós Islands retain an exceptional cultural heritage. The magnificent state of conservation of the archipelago is due to traditions. Because of their beliefs, the Bijagó have their own natural reserves, forests and islands that are untouchable because they are sacred, and where they cannot cultivate, hunt, or bury the dead. Among its symbolic animals are the manatee and the turtles, along with sharks, rays, hammerhead fish and sawfish, beings that they respect and revere.

The Orango Parque Hotel is not just a tourist establishment; it functions as an ecotourism development center in Guinea Bissau National Parks, and particularly in the Bijagos Islands and Orango and Vieira Poilao National Parks. The hotel is also the base of many collaborative projects developed together with IBAP (Instituto da Biodiversidade e das Áreas Protegidas) within the park: conservation projects targeting the manatee and hippopotamus populations in the region, projects designed to reduce conflicts between local people and wildlife, and projects that construct wells or renovate community health centers, among others.

The Bijagó population maintains a strong cultural identity, due to insularity and isolation. The deep respect for their animistic traditions has allowed them to preserve a society with matriarchal structures. They are calm, smiling, hospitable and friendly people, and they have great ethnographic interest.

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Conclusions of the Congress “The Iberian lynx: looking towards the future”

Conservation objectives have been established, it has been emphasized that ex situ breeding centers must continue at full capacity until at least 2030, it has been suggested an “Iberian Lynx Strategy” and a better Governance system.

More information, conclusions, and presentations:

Favorable Conservation Status of the Iberian Lynx

Calculation of potential suitable hábitat in the Iberian Peninsula and Natura 2000 network

Genetics and management of the Iberian Lynx

Identification platform for the Iberian Lynx

The Iberian Lynx ex situ Conservation Program and the FCS: How we get ther

Improving our Governance systems


Collaboration between “The European Nature Trust” and the CBD-Habitat Foundation

We have recently started a collaboration´s project with “The European Nature Trust” (TENT), that is an international foundation to support nature conservation projects, which collaborates with Wandafilms-Wanda Natura, producer of well-known documentaries. Both entities collaborate with the projects of the CBD-Habitat Foundation. TENT dedicates its efforts to the protection of natural sites and the restoration of places of high environmental value, affected by human activity, “to ensure that our planet remains habitable and that we can share it with other species.” His philanthropic philosophy seeks to support high impact conservation initiatives in Europe. With its support to the CBD-Habitat Foundation, TENT continues its action in Spain (already started with the Brown Bear Foundation). This month the technical teams of the CBD-Habitat Foundation and TENT have visited some of the initiatives of conservation and recovery of the Iberian lynx in Andalusia and Extremadura, establishing interesting lines of collaboration and exchange of ideas and experiences, which can cover all CBD-Habitat Foundation projects.


Note: with the support of TENT on May 20 of next year we will attend the premiere of Wanda Natura’s last documentary in London: «Dehesa: the forest of the Iberian lynx», for the benefit of the FCBDH. Thank you!

More information:

Philosophy of “The European Nature Trust”:

Wild places provide the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat. The evidence is now clear: spending time in nature is even integral to mental health and stress relief, physical wellness and development in childhood. Yet still, only 4% of charitable giving focuses on environmental causes. At The European Nature Trust (TENT), we create unique experiences that connect people to wild nature and raise funds for the protection and restoration of European wilderness. Through creating engaging and impactful experiences, through entertaining, motivating and inspiring, TENT change how people and businesses value nature, and therefore ultimately better protect our world. Most importantly, TENT has a 100% promise, 100% of every single donation is directed through the charity to leading conservation projects on the ground, where it matters. So, the goals of TENT are simple: through our activities we support proven conservation projects on the ground in key wilderness areas over the long-term, and above all, connect people to nature.


“Layman” report final summary of the LIFE + “Feeding Savengers” Spanish-English bilingual version

Spain is home to the most important population of necrophagous birds in Europe, both in diversity and in populations. Castilla y León, is the largest autonomous community in Spain, and one of the most unpopulated regions of Europe. Therefore, the responsibility for the conservation of scavenger species rests largely on the Spanish administration and society. In the case of the black vulture, a priority target of the Project, Spain has 95% of the community population.




The first reintroduction project for Mhorr gazelle into the wild

A very interesting publication has just come out about the reintroduction project of the Mohor gazelle (Nanger dama mhorr)!

This project has been a milestone in the conservation of this impressive Sahelo-Saharan species. Currently the populations are very rare and isolated, and is declared “critically endangered“.

Reintroductions continue to be an important conservation action for endangered species. Until this, all reintroduction projects for Mhorr gazelle (Nanger dama mhorr) had remained at the stage where the animals live in fenced protected areas of different sizes. This study describes the first experience of reintroduction of a group of 24 Mhorr gazelle into the wild in the Safia Reserve. The reintroduction was carried out in two phases: in the first one, the entire group was released; then, after an unexpected dogs attack event, part of them were kept safe until this problem was solved. Seven of the gazelles were monitored with telemetry collars, providing previously unavailable data on time allocation, daily rhythm of activity and social organization for the species in the wild. In addition, post-release movements revealed three patterns: during the first few days after release, small daily movements (average 2.78 km) close to the fence, followed by long-distance exploratory movements (up to 50 km) until establish territories; and finally, daily movements between established territories (average 8.39 km). Exceptional long distances (>50 km/day) were traveled after a poaching event. The study has also revealed the ability of the species to select and settle territories in favorable areas, after being kept for generations under captive or semi-captive conditions. However, their inability to recognize predators was demonstrated in an unexpected attack by dogs, resulting in the death of seven released gazelles. This mortality following the dog attack was favored, in part, because the released gazelle remained close to the fence, and therefore suggests that the release procedure should be revised, especially when there are predators in the release site. This study has confirmed that dogs as predators and poaching continue to be the main threat to reintroduction projects.

Very good experience and knowledge, that we will improve to the success of future reintroduction projects.

More information:

The first reintroduction project for mhorr gazelle (Nanger dama mhorr) into the wild: Knowledge and experience gained to support future conservation actions. Abáigar, T et al, Global Ecology and Conservation, 19, art. nº e00680 – 2019.


Exhibition on Bijagos in Guinea Bissau

International Day of Biodiversity under the motto: “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, our Health”. The CBD-Habitat Foundation together with IBAP and Orango Parque Hotel commemorate this day with the inauguration of “The Bijagos Exhibition” at the Guinean Cultural Center of Franco Bissau. The presentation of the exhibition was it made by the Secretary of State for the Environment and the Director of IBAP of Guinea Bissau.

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International Day for Biological Diversity 2019. Theme will be: “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health”

This year’s celebrations of the International Day for Biological Diversity,on 22 May 2019, (Convention on Biological Diversity,CBD) focus on biodiversity as the foundation for our food and health and a key catalyst to transforming food systems and improving human health. The theme aims to leverage knowledge and spread awareness of the dependency of our food systems, nutrition, and health on biodiversity and healthy ecosystems.

The theme also celebrates the diversity provided by our natural systems for human existence and well-being on Earth, while contributing to other Sustainable Development Goals, including climate change mitigation and adaptation, ecosystems restoration, cleaner water and zero hunger, among others. In the last 100 years, more than 90 percent of crop varieties have disappeared from farmers’ fields. Half of the breeds of many domestic animals have been lost, and all of the world’s 17 main fishing grounds are now being fished at or above their sustainable limits. Locally-varied food production systems are under threat, including related indigenous, traditional and local knowledge.

With this decline, agrobiodiversity is disappearing, and also essential knowledge of traditional local foods. The loss of diverse diets is directly linked to diseases or health risk factors. Decisions from the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, along with reports on biodiversity and health, provide recommendations. In addition, the EAT-Lancet Commission recently published findings on the healthnutrition-food systems-biodiversity nexus, that describe what constitutes a healthy diet from a sustainable food systems perspective, and which actions can support and speed up food systems transformation, in benefit of biodiversity.

The links between biodiversity, ecosystems, and the provision of benefits to human health are deeply entrenched in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. They are central to our common agenda for sustainable development. This focus on the nexus of biodiversity, food systems and health provides an opportunity to generate discussions on ways to support the post-2020 process for a global biodiversity framework and to help “bend the curve of biodiversity loss by 2030”. In this regard, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity together with a range of partners, including the WHO, FAO, UNICEF, UNESCO, as well as other entities like EAT Foundation and the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) are working together to identify transformative actions, through global food systems, to advance progress in support of biodiversity, climate, health and other related Sustainable Development Goals.

More information: 

Convention on Biological Diversity

International Day for Biological Diversity 2019

EAT-Lancet Commission

Sustainable Development Goals:

The LIFE+ “Feeding Scavengers Project” (CBD-Habitat) on the “Vulture Conservation Foundation” (VCF)

The Vulture Conservation Foundation is committed to conservation, restoration and protection of vultures as umbrella species for their natural habitats throughout Europe. The VCF is an international NGO committed to the conservation of the European vulture species: Bearded Vultures (Gypaetus barbatus), Griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus), Cinereous vultures (Aegypius monachus) and Egyptian vultures (Neophron percnopterus). VCF has extensive experience in breeding, reintroduction and protection of vultures in their natural habitat.

All European vulture species have a highly vulnerable status, and their distribution ranges have been severely restricted in the last century. Threats such as illegal poisoning, lack of food availability and collisions at wind farms and powerlines are putting the incipient recovery of some populations at risk. The isolation of many of the breeding populations and low productivity rate of the species make it difficult to ensure the survival of these species in the long term. Vultures require large natural areas of good quality habitat, which is increasingly difficult to find in the humanized European continent. Because of their unique role in the ecosystem, vultures are ‘keystone species’ in European mountain landscapes. They cut the vector of infectious disease transmission, act as natural carcass recyclers and are of great socioeconomic value to local communities. Protecting vultures therefore means protection of the entire European mountain ecosystems.

Farming for vultures: the results from the LIFE+ Feeding Scavengers project

Changes in farming practices was one of the factors that contributed to the decline of populations of vultures across Europe, the LIFE+ Feeding Scavengers in Spain has been working over the last four years to work with livestock owners to develop the management techniques for vultures and other birds of prey.

An emerging threat to Cinereous Vultures in Spain

The Cinereous Vulture population in Spain now accounts for over 96 percent of the total European population and thanks to the dedicated actions of projects over the last 40 years increasing from just 200 pairs in the 1970s to well over 2,500 pairs today. However, with the increase in the population the species the threat of lack of food availability is emerging as an important factor affecting the population. The combination of measures to control the spread of BSE such as laws requiring livestock owners to safely dispose of animal remains, the decline of the practice of extensive livestock grazing and stricter health controls from farms and slaughterhouses have resulted in a steep decrease in the food available for Cinereous Vultures and other birds of prey. The LIFE+ Feeding Scavengers project led by CBD-Habitat Foundation, Ministry of Development and Environment of the Junta de Castilla and León, and the Natural Heritage Foundation of Castilla y León, which came to an end in December 2018 aimed to deal with this situation in central Spain.

Collaborating with livestock owners

Key to the project was working with farmers across Castilla y León, covering the whole of the range of Cinereous Vultures in the region, to change practices to increase the food available to the species. In total the project have been collaborating with 550 farms and 30 livestock associations and cooperatives which cover around 500,000 ha.

Following the passing of Decree 17/2013 by the Castilla y León regional government, which authorises the use of animal remains from extensive livestock for the feeding of scavenger species.The project worked with farmers to develop new management techniques which included extensive consultations to understand the implications of the new law such as recording information about the animal and the location of the animal remains that would not cause risks to people or animals for example near water sources, homes or powerlines.

Farming for vultures

By the end of the project a total of 355 farms who practice extensive grazing have collaborated with the project and have been authorised by the regional governments to manage their herds in a more vulture friendly practice. This accounts for 85,793 sheep, 5,711 goats, 2,257 cows, 3,873 pigs and 442 horses which the projects has found is associated with it an annual mortality of around 376,000 kg of biomass. By being authorised to leave the remains of this livestock in the natural environment this biomass becomes available to vultures and other birds of prey such as Iberian Imperial Eagle, Red and Black Kites and Golden Eagle. This work also highlighted the economic benefits of this practice of freeing up significant amount of time for livestock owners and reducing carbon emissions by 30 tons / year of CO2 by eliminating the need for incineration of animal remains. Increasing the food available in the natural environment is helping reduce the competition between vultures and the other birds of prey in the region, which will help the recovery of the Cinereous Vulture in the region and improve conditions for the Egyptian and Griffon Vultures.

The LIFE+ Feeding Scavengers project is a great example of collaboration between a non-governmental organisation, governmental agencies and livestock owners to change practices that has positive impacts on vultures.

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