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More birds under threat of habitat loss in Europe

…help Proact fight the latest short-sighted plans

Two more threats of habitat loss in Europe need your help - see below for details and how to help by joining the Proact campaigns.Dupont`s Lark Habitat at Risk - Timoneda D`Alfes, CataloniaAn appeal has for support has been received from Proact members and conservationists in Catalonia. The steppe habitat of Timoneda D`Alfes, thelast of its kind in the region, and home of rare breeding birds such as Dupont`s Lark Chersophilus duponti, the Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor and the Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata is in danger of beingdestroyed by proposals to build a modern regional airport on the site of a grass strip flying club aerodrome. Other flora and fauna, also endangered onan Iberian and Europen level, are also at stake. Now read on …Timoneda d`Alfes is the only site in Catalonia where Dupont`s Lark still breeds, a stronghold of the eastern Iberian population. The number of breeding pairs has decreased alarmingly from 40-60 pairs in 1990 to less than 20 pairs in 2001. This decrease is due to aircraft activity, habitat loss and other local problemsAnother endangered bird breeding here is the Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor. Of the 2 traditional Catalan breeding sites one, the Empora marshes held NO breeding pairs last year due to habitat disturbance; in the other, Lleida, 7 pairs bred in 2002 - 37% of the whole Catalan breeding population. The Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata also also breeds in the area with a total of 60 breeding pairs for in Catalonia in 2000 (in the 1980`s there were 180 breeding pairs.)Other steppe dwellers which breed here include the Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra, Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla and the Thekla Lark Galerida theklae. In the vicinity other interesting species such as the Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius also breed.The Threat
The grass airstrip and ground facilities of the former military aerodromesituated in the Timoneda d`Alfes was taken into use a few years ago by the Royal Lleida Flying Club. Local politicians now plan to develop the site for business and tourist traffic which would include asphalting and extending the runway, building new hangars and generally transforming the aerodrome into a fully functioning regional airport.This would have a devastating effect on all wildlife in Timoneda D`Alfes; but in particular on the Dupont`s Lark. In June 1998 the Catalan government introduced a special plan for protecting the site, stating that the use of the aerodrome was provisional and including it in the list of natural interesting sites, (PEIN) which it had initiated in 1985. The special protection was afforded because of the site`s high ecological value because of the rare breeding birds.Catalan conservationists have protested for some time about the airport proposals, which would endange bird species protected under both Catalan and European law.

How can you help?
Catalan conservationists have appealed for help, in what could be the final stages of the public protest campaign. The deadline for public objections against developments plans for the airport is the 28th March 2003. A Proact campaign, with prepared draft texts and contact addresses is at: http://www.proactnow.org/localcampaigns/id23.html The Catalonians will be grateful for your support.The Last European Primeval Lowland Forest Fights for SurvivalAlthough the forests have been under protection since the end of the 14th Century, and were designated a World Heritage Site in 1992, increased economic pressures in the former Soviet republic of Belarus, such as soaring inflation and lack of funding create pressures to intensify commercial and economic activity. The natural regeneration of the forest is being irreversibly destroyed through intensive logging and skidding of timber. As in the Polish part of the biosphere reserve (the Bialowieza National Park) between 170 and 200 bird species breed here with owls and woodpeckers among the specialities. The owl species present include Eagle Owl Bubo bubo, Ural Owl Strix uralensis, Pygmy Owl Glaucidium passerinum and Tengmalm`s Owl Aegolius funereus and the rare Great Grey Owl Strix nebulosa is present some years. Hawk Owl Surnia ulula and Snowy Owl Nyctea scandiaca have also been recorded as vagrants.Belarus conservationists have appealed for international support in their campaign against this irreversible rape of an important European natural resource. Help them by going to http://www.proactnow.org/ppsi/id27.html and joining the international protest…

4th July 2014