When We Improve the State of the Habitats of Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola), We Stop Degrading Small Rivers

Grant Recipient

Ukrainian Association for the Conservation of Birds

Project Leader


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Anatoliy Poluda

Contact

P.O. Box 33, 
Kyiv city, 01103
Tel: +38 044 2350112
E-mail: utop@iptelecom.net.ua

Goal

The promotion of the establishment of a network of Nature Protection Fund sites, and management plans for the sites, that play the key role in protecting the habitats of Aquatic Warbler, and the development of a positive attitude among the population towards nature-protection activities.

Objectives

  • to establish collaboration between the State Department of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources in Volynska Oblast, regional branches of the Ukrainian Society for the Protection of Birds, local authorities and the local population;
  • to prepare and submit a proposal (scientific rationale) for the establishment of a network of Nature Protection Fund sites (from ornithological reserves of local importance to reserves of national importance, which will be proposed for inclusion in the national ecological network) that support the greater part of the national population of Aquatic Warbler;
  • to raise the level of public awareness through publishing and disseminating a colourful poster on the importance of protecting Aquatic Warbler habitats as a part of the overall protection of the environment, as well as through holding a round table on the problem.

Project Area

Volynska Oblast

Results

Aquatic Warbler habitats were monitored

In May-June 2004, the five main Aquatic Warbler habitats in Volynska Oblast were monitored. It was found that the Ukrainian part of the Prypyat population of Aquatic Warbler was at its highest (around 2,500 male birds) since the habitats began to be monitored in 1996; this is related to the fact that the hydrological regime in the majority of its nesting sites is very good.

As two key Aquatic Warbler habitats are located outside the nature-protection areas, it was proposed that two general zoological reserves of state importance be created.

 

Scientific rationales for the establishment of two reserves were prepared

Scientific rationales were prepared for the inclusion of the two areas that were found to be important as Aquatic Warbler breeding sites in the Nature Protection Fund: the floodplains of the Rivers Turiya ("Vyzhery" reserve, 300 ha) and Styr ("Borovychivsky" reserve, 600 ha).

It must emphasised that the creation of protected areas in Aquatic Warbler habitats does not exclude traditional kinds of natural-resource use such as haymaking and cattle pasturing within the wetlands; indeed, these uses may be encouraged. However, all kinds of economic activity that could lead to a violation of the hydrological regime of these areas should be strictly prohibited.

 

A project was devised to create a regulatory system for the hydrological regime in the key Aquatic Warbler habitat

The largest area of Aquatic Warbler habitat in Ukraine (holding 600-800 males) is located between the Rivers Prypyat and Tsyrya, between Vetly, Birky and Tsyr villages in Lyubeshivsky Rayon, Volynska Oblast. The majority of the birds are found within three hydrological reserves of local importance. Two drainage canals were dug in "Birkivsky" reserve a couple of decades ago. Large areas of hayfields border the canals, and these are the habitat of Aquatic Warbler. The canals do not have water-regulating systems, and this often leads to the hayfields drying out (in June 2003 and 2004 the level of water in the hayfields was 30-40 cm lower than the surface of the surrounding land). This leads to a decrease in the hay harvest (30-50% lower than on the wet hayfields), and forces Aquatic Warbler to leave the biotope (the optimal water level for this species is 5-10 cm higher than the surface of the land).

Scientific recommendations were made to regulate the water regime in order to improve the productivity of the hayfields and habitat conditions for the Aquatic Warbler. A proposal was made to build three-four dams/sluices on the central canal that will allow the water level on the hayfields to be regulated. It will also improve drainage off the hayfields, which are separated from the canal by an embankment.

 

Co-operation was organised with village councils

The areas of Aquatic Warbler habitat (hayfields) are also declining due to the growth of bushes. This problem can be solved by changing the system under which the hayfields are shared out among the inhabitants of Vetly, Birky and Tsyr villages. Each year the individual hayfields are reallocated (by lot). If a peasant is allocated a hayfield with bushes that are growing rapidly, he will not be interested in cleaning up his field as he will probably not be allocated the same field in the following year. The best way to make a peasant interested in maintaining his hayfield well is to ensure that he uses the same field regularly, which will force him to keep his field clean. To explain the need for these measures, meetings were organised with the three local councils. In June 2004, the deputies of Birky Village Council made a decision about the permanent use of the hayfields and allocated them accordingly among the peasants.

 

A full-colour booklet, "Aquatic Warbler Is a Symbol of Open Sedge Wetlands", was published and disseminated

The booklet is devoted to the protection of the Aquatic Warbler. It gives brief information about the species and the main problems that are leading to its extinction, describes habitats and the areas where the birds are found, and includes an appeal to conserve the wetlands in the Upper Prypyat that are essential to the survival of the Aquatic Warbler population. The majority of the booklets (200 copies) were disseminated in Vetly, Birky and Tsyr villages, which are very close to the largest area of Aquatic Warbler habitat in Ukraine.

 

A round table meeting was held at the State Department of the Environment and Natural Resources in Volynska Oblast

A round table meeting involving a large number of specialists was held on 2 June 2004. Under discussion were issues related to preserving the floodplain of the River Prypyat and protecting the Aquatic Warbler. The Department had supported proposals from the Ukrainian Association for the Conservation of Birds regarding a regulatory system for the water regime in "Birkivsky" reserve and for arranging longer-term allocations of the hayfields. An appeal was sent to Birkivska Village Council asking it to review the terms of hayfield use and the Council replied that the question had already been solved in a positive way.

 

 
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