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Another Bustard of a problem?

Can The Great Bustard Population In East Germany Survive?

The elation among birders and conservationists over the news that the Great Bustard is to be reintroduced into its former habitat on Salisbury Plain in England is tempered by the increasing threat to the survival of the population in Land Brandenburg in eastern Germany.

It is ironic that the Brandenburg Great Bustard population managed to survive World War II followed by over 40 years of communist rule; was nurtured and built up by a small but dedicated group of local conservationists after German reunification; and is now threatened by thedrive for clean energy - wind power!The first count of the Great Bustard in Germany in 1939/40 recorded a population of 4,100 individuals. With a few small exceptions in Lower Saxony and Thuringia, the bird`s habitats were located principally in the former GDR in the provinces of Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania and Saxony. The last individuals in the latter 2 provinces died out in 1980 and 1994 respectively. The Brandenburg population declined from 2,900 in 1934 to 64 in the 1990s and has reached about 100 at the present time. These, together with a small group in Saxony-Anhalt, constitute the last remaining Great Bustard population in Northern Europe.The stability of the population in Brandenburg is wholly due to the efforts of the F?rderverein Gro?trappenschutz e.V. ? see: http://www.grosstrappe.de/ over a number of years. The survival, and indeed gradual increase of these groups of birds, has attracted eco-tourists to the otherwise economically weak province, and the Great Bustard has become an unofficial emblem of Land Brandenburg. All of this is now threatened by the rapid and uncontrolled expansion of the wind power industry. Over 90% of the German Great Bustards live in 3 breeding groups in the Havelland-Fl?ming region. Intensive private and governmental protection measures since 1997 have facilitated an increase in the population to some 100 individuals at the present time. There are now however already 100 wind turbines in the area and the erection of many more are being planned. The present plan for wind energy lists 17 suitable sites, 9 of which would negatively influence Great Bustard habitats. Despite appeals by conservation organisations, and court judgements in their favour, the responsible Brandenburg ministries either ignore their own guidelines and obligations or disregard obligations under international agreements such as the EU Bird protection guidelines or the Bonn Convention.

The survival of Great Bustard in Brandenburg is under acutely threatened!

You can help by joining in the Proact campaign at http://www.proact-campaigns.net/ppsi/id41.html

4th July 2014