In the early 2000s, we launched a series of projects that were financed by the Romanian Environmental Partnership Foundation and focused on the conservation of raptors in Transylvania. Since then, the Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina) became one of our target species. According to data from that time, its population in Romania was estimated at 200-300 breeding pairs, but these numbers were not based on any real assessment. In 2005, we organised an almost nationwide survey in the Carpathian Mountains and we were supported professionally by experts from abroad and financially by WWF and CERI. The outcome was astounding: the overall national population consists of around 2,000 pairs, thus placing Romania of utmost importance in the conservation of the Lesser Spotted Eagle.
We continued the census in 2007 by extending to the remaining uncovered areas, hence the first national assessment of the species. Naturally, we did not stop there. In 2010, we began a national LIFE project for the conservation of the Lesser Spotted Eagle in partnership with Sibiu County’s Environmental Protection Agency and the Romanian Ornithological Society. The four-year project won EU ‘s recognition and was included among the best LIFE projects. We developed the management plan for this species in Romania and we updated the management plan at the European level (Species European Action Plan).
We also assessed the threats. The Lesser Spotted Eagle is a long-distance migrant, spending the winters in southern Africa. Therefore, these problems cannot be solved only at the national level. The most important conservation factor in Romania is to preserve current agricultural practices. We developed a financial support system that will provide an additional income to farmers who manage their lands in an eagle-friendly manner. Another result of the project is a guidebook for the proper management of the Lesser Spotted Eagle’s habitat. It can be accessed by the custodians of the protected areas and bird enthusiasts alike.