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White-headed duck preservation plan in the Valencian community (Malvasia Valencia)
Date du début: 1 janv. 2001, Date de fin: 31 déc. 2005 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

Background The white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) is threatened with extinction throughout the world. This species lives in wetlands that contain at least 40-50 centimetres of fresh or brackish water and are associated with abundant vegetation, preferably reeds or bulrushes. In the region of Valencia the breeding population is concentrated in the wetlands to the south of Alicante (El Hondo), where 2,300 of the 2,400 individuals living in the Iberian Peninsula can be found. The main threat to this species comes from interbreeding with the ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis), damage to the habitat, lead poisoning and illegal hunting. Objectives The project planned to diminish or eliminate principal threats to the white-headed duck. Scientific studies and monitoring work were planned in order to gain a better knowledge of the species. This knowledge would then be used to draw up a recovery plan for the species. The medium-term aim of the project was to ensure that the population increased to the degree that would be able to colonise new wetlands. A more long-term objective was to promote a stable and well-distributed population in the region of Valencia. To this end, measures would be taken to remove the ruddy duck and its hybrids and to remove or at least diminish the accumulation of lead in sensitive areas. This would be accompanied by an information campaign to educate and improve environmental awareness of the species, its problems and the importance of conserving its habitats. The project will be carried out in four SPAs: the Albufera de Valencia Nature Park, the Marjal del Moro, the Salinas de Santa Pola and El Hondo. Results In general, the objectives of the project were achieved, although some of the actions have not had the impact planned, mainly due to the delay in the start of the project. The main success was the approval of the recovery plan for the white headed duck in the Valencia region based in the data produced during the execution of the project. The plan included important measures for ensuring ecosystem conservation and combating the main threats to the white-headed duck. Measures needed for eliminating alien species were carefully evaluated. The project organisers wanted to make sure that steps taken in this regard would have long-lasting effects. Along with the lack of water and vegetation on the margin of water masses, lead deposits from hunting rifles seriously damage the habitat of the species. The project helped improved the ecosystem in the target region by introducing a conservation plan. Based on the principles of Decree 93/2005 (which approved the Recovery Plan of the White Headed Duck in the region of Valencia), the plan defined conservation areas and recovery areas. It also ensured the development of successive action plans for the conservation and recovery of the species. The legislation is very ambitious and thorough, covering all the threats identified by the project. In short, the project obtained the vital results necessary for the conservation of this threatened species. A limited awareness-raising campaign produced good materials that were widely distributed to schools and stakeholders in the areas affected by the project.


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