International Actions Plans for European Turtle Dove and European Roller Developed at Hungary Workshops

Bonn, 26 January 2017 - Two important avian-related workshops took place back to back in Kecskemét, Hungary, in January 2017. Both meetings were organized and facilitated by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB, the BirdLife partner in the UK) and BirdLife Hungary under the framework of two EU LIFE Projects.

The goal of both workshops was the development of a basis and strategy for new International Species Action Plans, one on the European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur) and one on the European Roller (Coracias garrulus). The European Turtle Dove (subspecies turtur) is listed in CMS Appendix II and the European Roller in Appendices I and II. Showing decreasing global population trends over many years, both species are also included in the Annexes of the CMS Action Plan for Migratory Landbirds in the African-Eurasian Region (AEMLAP; under Resolution 11.17), which has been adopted at CMS COP 11 in 2014. 

The first workshop (16-18 January 2017) held under the LIFE EuroSAP Project focused on the central and eastern flyway of the European Turtle Dove and was attended by almost 40 international representatives and experts from the European Commission, national government authorities, bird conservation NGOs, hunting associations and research institutions. The workshop was the counterpart to a previous one on the western flyway held in Segovia, Spain, in December 2016.

The specific goals of the workshop were firstly to understand the reasons for the observed population declines and the possible mechanisms for recovery, and secondly to develop and agree on a strategic and focused approach to Turtle Dove recovery. As an outcome of the workshop, reduced food availability and nesting possibilities as a result of agricultural intensification, illegal killing and hunting were identified as the most important factors leading to a decrease in Turtle Dove population trends. Referring to the existing Review of the EU European Turtle Dove Management Plan, the workshop participants formulated short- and long-term priority actions with regard to habitat management, agricultural policies, local NGO projects, research needs and awareness campaigns. Specific knowledge gaps on the status of Turtle Dove populations and on threats such as poisoning by pesticides, predation and diseases were identified; these gaps must be filled.

Crucial research needs and actions were assessed with regard to the species’ wintering grounds in Africa. CMS presented the process and timeline for the development of an International Flyway Species Action Plan for the European Turtle Dove for adoption at the CMS COP 12 in Manila, Philippines, in October 2017. In this respect, members of the CMS Secretariat, the CMS Scientific Council and AEMLAP emphasized the importance of international collaboration among European, African and Asian regions, considering the diversity of threats along the migration route of the species and particularly the rapid changes of land use in many African countries, which are leading to further habitat loss and potentially aggravated population declines. The timeline has to be synchronized with the process of consultations of EU Member States coordinated by the European Commission. An envisaged statistical modeling on sustainable harvest, which should take all factors of mortality as well as reproduction rates into account, will be an important component particularly regarding negotiations with hunting associations and potential limitations of hunting bags. Preliminary results show that hunting pressure should be reduced.

The European Roller International Conference Workshop (19-20 January 2017) was conducted within the framework of the EU LIFE+ Project “Conservation of the European Roller in the Carpathian Basin”. More than 70 experts from all Range States in Europe as well as international representatives, from Israel, Kenya and South Africa, among others, attended this meeting.

Although the status of the European Roller in the IUCN Red List was downgraded from Near threatened to Least concern in 2015, the expert reports indicated severe population declines and an unfavourable status of the European Roller in many countries over several decades. First focusing on the European range, the participants assessed that the loss of old-grown trees for breeding and hedges in the course of agricultural intensification, poisoning by pesticides, illegal killing and taking mainly during migration, conversion of grasslands, grassland management intensification, urbanization and windfarms were the major threats to European Rollers. Road kill, electrocution, clearing of riverbanks, afforestation with plantations, predation and disturbance represented further important threats. Most recommended actions tackled agriculture, nesting site availability and law enforcement and awareness raising to combat illegal killing.

Major knowledge gaps exist for the African wintering sites. Satellite tracking projects will be an important tool for the identification of key habitats and threats during migration and in the wintering grounds. The presentation by CMS and the involvement of AEMLAP increased the chances of an International Flyway Species Action Plan for the European Roller being ready for adoption at CMS COP 12. The CMS Action Plan will represent an important instrument for developing and implementing conservation action on the ground within the entire flyway range of the European Roller.  

For more information, please contact Tilman Schneider, Avian Species Team at

Last updated on 26 January 2017