The Great Bustard Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) was concluded under the auspices of the Convention
on Migratory Species (CMS) and became effective on
1 June 2001. It covers the Middle-European populations
of the Great Bustard and manages modern agriculture
throughout its range in Central Europe in order to
save the remaining individuals.
The European population of the Great Bustard is estimated
to be between 35,600 and 38,500 individuals but there
has been a rapid decline in much of Central and Eastern
Europe. Without active protection measures, the species
is doomed to disappear.
The remaining population is dispersed in several
small populations. Its habitat is intensively used
agricultural land and mixed extensive agricultural
and pasture/fallow land. Conservation measures need
to focus on active habitat management and on maintaining
large areas of non-intensive farming systems.
The MoU area includes Albania, Austria, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany,
Greece, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia,
Slovenia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
and Ukraine. The First Meeting of the Signatories
(Illmitz, 2004) endorsed inviting Italy, Montenegro,
the Russian Federation and Serbia to join the MoU.
An up-to-date list of actual MoU Signatories is found
in its Agreement Summary Sheet
The Action Plan
The MoU includes an Action Plan which lists specific
activities appropriate for each Range State including
habitat protection, prevention of hunting and disturbance,
cross-border conservation, monitoring, research and
public awareness activities.
It calls for cooperation among national authorities
to promote the conservation of the species. It demands
the strict protection of the species and the maintenance
and restoration of its habitat.
The MoU provides an intergovernmental framework for
governments, scientists and other groups to monitor
and coordinate ongoing conservation efforts. Activities
under the MoU are described in the Secretariat's Overview
Report typically provided at MoU Signatory meetings.
Country level information is found in each country's
national work programme and in the individual national
reports submitted to the meeting.
Several grants from the European Union LIFE programme
have helped fund Great Bustard protection efforts.
Programmes are in place to protect breeding areas,
provide feeding areas for wintering birds and minimize
collisions between the birds and power lines. In several
EU Member States, agri-environmental measures financed
by the European Agricultural and Rural Development
Fund play an important role in encouraging farmers
to maintain or adopt appropriate farming techniques.
Additionally, with funding provided by the Austrian
government, CMS has worked with BirdLife International
to establish an MoU coordinator. Among other things,
the coordinator offers technical advice to Range States,
helps prepare meetings, and enables information sharing.