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LIFE 15/NAT/ES/001016

"Management of Urban SPAs in Extremadura for the conservation of Lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni)"

The LIFE projects are financed by the European Union to promote the protection of the environment.

Life Program

The LIFE program is the only financial instrument of the European Union dedicated exclusively to the environment. Its overall objective for the period 2004-2020 is to contribute towards sustainable development on the European Strategy 2020 and of the relevant strategies and plans of the Union regarding the environment and climate.

...And what are the SPAs?

The SPAs are a designation under the European Union Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds. Together with Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), the SPAs form a network of protected sites across the EU, called Natura 2000.

About urban SPA
The urban SPAs of Extremadura coincide with localities of great cultural and patrimonial value, where the colonies of lesser kestrel are found in churches, convents, palaces, castles, monasteries or old houses. For this reason, the project also focuses its efforts on the creation of new tourism products that combine cultural tourism with ornithological, favoring the economic activity of local companies.
Currently, Extremadura has 19 urban SPA for the conservation of the Lesser Kestrel. The urban SPAs are home to more than 60% of the entire population of Lesser Kestrel present in the Natura 2000 Network, so its importance is crucial for the conservation of this threatened species.

Source: Junta de Extremadura y LIFE ZepaUrban

We conserve our biodiversity

Lesser Kestrel

(Falco naumanni )
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The Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) is a small diurnal raptor basically migrating although in some areas, such as southern Spain, Italy and northwest of the African continent, is present throughout the year. It occupies regions of warm climate with the presence of more or less natural steppes and cultivated areas throughout the Palearctic region, from southern Europe (Mediterranean basin) to Mongolia and China, reaching North Africa and Turkey (Eurasian distribution) . Its main wintering quarters are in central and southern Africa.

It is a colonial species that in the breeding season is associated with urban environments, installing their nests in different types of buildings, preferably in hollow walls, mechinales or under tiles, so it is easy to find in buildings in the countryside as well as buildings in the interior of urban centers. More rarely it is installed in small cuttings where it uses natural holes as nests.


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The purpose of the project is to develop a model of management of urban SPAs that ensures the conservation of the lesser kestrel in the long term, since the population has suffered a great decrease in recent years. For this purpose, specific and effective management and conservation measures will be adopted to reduce or eliminate their main threats.


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  • Improve the conservation and management of breeding of the lesser kestrel populations in urban SPAs.

  • Ensure suitable foraging habitats for urban kestrel populations.

  • Improve the quality of land for grazing, crops and field edges in order to increase the abundance and availability of prey, such as grasshoppers, crickets and other insects.

  • Raise local awareness of the importance of lesser kestrel conservation, in particular among the owners of buildings, who play a crucial role in preserving nesting sites.

  • Develop tourism activities around the lesser kestrel, as a model of sustainable local economic activities.


2016-2020 period
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The actions that Terra Naturalis is going to carry out are:

A1. Initial census of the population of lesser kestrel in urban SPAs and roosts in Extremadura.

A2. Study and characterization of the feeding habitat of the lesser kestrel in the urban SPAs

A7. Evaluation of the effectiveness and design of census methods in urban areas.

    In this action, the census method used in the framework of the project will be objectively assessed to determine what would be the most accurate methodology for census of lesser kestrel populations in urban centers based on different variables that may condition their result. For this, two different situations and characteristics of urban ZEPA of Extremadura will be used as a reference: colonies located in a single building and colonies spread over several buildings..

D1. Monitoring of the impact of the conservation actions of the project on the Lesser Kestrel in the urban SPAs.

    The objective of this action is to verify the impact of the conservation actions of the project on the population of lesser kestrel in the urban SPAs and the post-nuptial roosts included in the project. Specifically, it will track:
  • Impact of the consolidation works of the nesting substrate and installation of new nests and adaptation of mechinales on the breeding colonies in urban ZEPAs.
  • Impact of population reinforcement measures and management of feeding habitat on the population of lesser kestrel of urban SPAs and of post-nuptial roosts

E11. Replicability strategy of LIFE ZEPAURBAN and networking with similar projects.

    The purpose of this action is the transfer of technical knowledge, results obtained in the project, problems encountered and lessons learned, during and after the completion of the project. It is intended that this Strategy is a multiplier element of the project's impact, offering the solutions found to a wide spectrum of agents related to the lesser kestrel and its conservation (public administrations, conservationist associations, researchers, farmers, architects), so that can be applied in other places with the presence of this species, both at national and European level.