The study tour, which included the examination of different nature conservation tools, was conducted by visiting Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia, and it was organized within the framework of the “Preparation, Implementation and Monitoring of Species Action Plans for Endangered Species in Turkey within the Concept of a New Methodology” Project carried out by the General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, with the financial support of the European Union Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance II (IPAII)
On the 1st and 2nd days of the programme:
A visit was made to the Seewinkel National Park, which is located on the Austrian-Hungarian border, including mostly Neusiedler Lake and its surroundings. UNESCO designated this National Park as a Biosphere Reserve, and it is also a Ramsar site. From the information received about the conservation efforts of threatened species such as Great Bustard, Imperial Eagle and Corncrake, it has been seen that partnership with NGOs plays a vital role in the success of training and monitoring.
The species action plans developed in line with the Endangered Species project were assessed by getting familiar with national park activities.
Seewinkel National Park is home to 371 of Austria’s 430 bird species, as well as greylag goose, foxes, deer, roe deer, and numerous eagle species. Seewinkel was assessed in the IUCN category and deemed compatible with the second category, which is the national park category. Its total size is 300 km2, and it has a variety of habitats.
Michaela Kojnek provided in-depth explanations and presentations regarding Seewinkel National Park. Presentations on species and action plans in National Parks were made by Marton Horvath on behalf of MME BirdLife, Atilla Fersch of Fertő-Hanság National Park and by Miklós Lóránt from the Kiskunság National Park Directorate.
On the 3rd day of the programme:
Visits were made to the ZRC SAZU Barje Research Station of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences in Ig near Ljubljana, which also researches biodiversity and conservation. Participants had the opportunity to visit the nursing station for the endangered butterfly species False Ringlet established for the recovery of its population in the Ljubljansko barje Nature Park area.
A variety of presentations included active management of lowland grasslands for conservation of Corncrake within the LIFE+ funded Species Action Plan for this species, national strategy of species conservation and specific measures to mitigate electrocution-induced mortality of Eagle Owls in Slovenia. The presenters from DOPPS-BirdLife Slovenia were Blaž Blažič, dr. Primož Kmecl and Tomaž Mihelič.
On the 4th day of the programme:
The participants of the Study Tour started a new day by visiting the Slovenian Forestry Institute’s newest information centre “Dina” in Pivka, featuring conservation of large carnivores in Dinaric Alps of Slovenia and Croatia. Information about legislation on wildlife management, species protection strategies, and implementation examples of action plans was received by Matej Bartol and Maja Sever. In preparation of strategic conservation documents, key roles of ministries, universities, NGOs, local people, local governments, and research institutes were examined.
On the 5th day of the programme:
The last stop of the visit was a famous Rescue Centre for Griffon Vultures in the picturesque village of Beli on Cres Island, Croatia. A presentation by Marko Modrić from the regional administration – the Public Company “Priroda” from the town of Rijeka described the threats and environmental factors on griffon vultures, but also the history and present state of the recovery centre.
Ornithology expert Vedran Lucić provided extensive information about the griffon vulture species action plans carried out by the Croatia’s largest nature conservation NGO – BIOM, which was carried out after the request by the Ministry of Environment and is prepared for the period of ten years.
Through the information acquired over the entire trip, the participants of the tour got acquainted with a variety of tools for nature conservation and their use from practical real-life experience in the three visited countries. The study, in which exemplary inferences were made within the scope of the Species Action Plans, was concluded successfully.