The practical conservation actions are the key actions of the project and are directly addressed for proper management of the habitats as well as creation of new suitable breeding sites. Practical conservation actions cover four main actions:
- Formation and maintenance of Common and Little terns breeding habitats in the Nemunas river and Kalviai gravel pit (C1)
Overgrowing of the islands with the vegetation is common problem and it is related to the natural habitat succession. The task of this project action is improve breeding habitats conditions in three SPAs – Nemunas delta, Kalviai gravel-pit (further, Kalviai) and Nemunas river between Kulautuva and Smalininkai, through the formation of the sandy and gravel islands suitable for the terns breeding and small scale restoration of the existing already degraded nesting sites. This action will start as soon as climatic and hydrological conditions will allow start practical implementation of the action, i.e. with proper water table in the Nemunas river out of the ice cover or debacle period. Another limiting factor is breeding season of waterbirds when such interventions are ineligible.
Beneficiary, responsible for this task, is the State Enterprise Inland Waterways Authority (VVKD), JSC EKO-STOMA will support the VVKD in the implementation of this project action and will be responsible for implementation of the practical works in Kalviai gravel pit.
- Restoration and maintenance of Common and Little terns breeding habitats in seven SPAs and one IBA designated for the species protection in Lithuania (C2)
During the first project year, vegetation will be cut in the Nemunas river islands in the Nemuno Kilpos RP (2 SPAs) and in the Lipliūnai IBA. Grass enervating mowing will follow the first steps in all three sites during at least two next years. The removal of the grass layer will be implemented on one island of the Nemunas between Prienai and Lengveniškės SPA in the area of 200 m2. Covering of one island with an area of 2000 m2 with geotextile and its back-fill with gravel layer will be used for habitat restoration in the Nemunas between Pelėšiškės and Balbieriškis SPA. This measure also should ensure long-term habitat sustainability of this site. The maintenance of the restored habitats will be continued by the LOD and NKRPD with its continuation on the own capacity after the end of the project. Activities related to restoration and maintenance of the breeding habitats in the Lipliūnai IBA will be implemented by the LOD staff. Activities related with restoration/maintenance of the terns breeding habitats in two SPAs in the territory Nemuno Kilpos RP will be implemented mainly basing on the outsourcing services for the backfill of the island with gravel on the lined geotextile, removal of grass vegetation and brush cutting, but under supervision of the NKRPD staff.
Restoration of Common tern breeding habitat and their maintenance through proper management of grass vegetation in Kretuonas Lake, Niedus and Veisiejas Lakes and Novaraistis SPAs Inappropriate vegetation will be cut during first two project years on the islands of Novaraistis and Lake Niedus. Grass enervating mowing will be continued afterwards on the island of Lake Niedus throughout the project. Covering of one plot on the Lake Kretuonas island with an area of 500 m2 with geotextile and its back-fill with gravel layer will be used for restoration of the Little tern breeding habitat. The implementation time of this measure is related to the ice-cover of the lake and is expected to be finished in winter 2019. The annual reed underwater cutting will be implemented for extermination of the reed belt around the Didžioji island of Lake Kretuonas. This measure is extremely important for its long-term sustainability and maintenance of the habitat. The maintenance of habitats in Novaraistis, lake Kretuonas and Lake Niedus will be continued by the LOD on the own capacity after the end of the project. Restoration and maintenance of the terns breeding sites in all three sites will be implemented by the LOD staff. However, in the Lake Kretuonas, practical conservation action will be implemented basing on the outsourcing services for the backfill of gravel on the lined geotextile and reed cutting under water.
Formation and maintenance of Common tern breeding habitat on the natural floating islands of Vasaknos fish-ponds and artificial rafts in Sartai RP SPAs. The installation of the floating rafts in the Sartai SPA as compensation of the lacking breeding sites for the Common tern after the loss of the floating islands on the Vasaknos fish-pond SPA will be implemented in 2019, i.e. before the tern breeding season already.
Meanwhile, the fixing of the floating natural islands to the bottom on the Vasaknos SPA should start after the end of breeding season in 2019. However, it depends on the procurement process for outsourcing of those services, and on the short-term period, when the ponds are without water. Thus, the fixing of the floating islands can be prolonged until2020. However, the installed artificial rafts in the neighbouring Sartai SPA, should compensate the lack of the Common tern breeding sites in Vasaknos SPA. Practical conservation activities of this sub-action will be implemented basing on the outsourcing services for the installation of three floating rafts in Sartai SPA and attaching of the floating islands in the Vasaknos SPA, but under supervision of the LOD staff.
LOD is responsible for implementation of this action, NKRPD will support the LOD in the implementation of works in 2 SPAs in Nemuno Kilpos Regional Park.
- Installation of additional terns' protection measures (C3)
The task of the action is to avoid or at least to reduce destruction of the nests and mortality of the nestlings of Common and Little terns. This action will be implemented in all SPAs designated for their protection. The deployment of the protective shelters for nestlings and installation of the warning signs will start even before the implementation of the habitat restoration and maintenance activities in order to increase protection the existing breeding populations. Deployment of the protective shelters for nestlings and installation of the warning signs will be implemented exclusively by the LOD staff.
Deployment of the protective shelters is focused on reduction of impact of predators. This threat in principle can be important for the most SPAs, designated for the protection of the terns. The significant impact on the breeding Common terns due to predation of the large gulls was observed in two SPAs - Novaraistis and Lake Kretuonas islands. Significant impact of the American mink activities was observed in another two SPAs - Nemunas delta and Niedus and Veisiejas lakes (further, Niedus). In addition, in case of the bare sandy islands, juveniles can be killed by various Corvids species as well. 600 protective shelters for terns' nestlings will be deployed during four breeding seasons of the project implementation period.
Disturbance is also significant threat for breeding Common and Little terns. The biggest impact is observed, when people using waterbodies for recreation: angling, beaching, picnics, and visiting for longer time the breeding sites of tern species, in particular islands. 200 warning signs with relevant information will be installed during four breeding seasons of the project implementation period. The signs will be put at the beginning of the breeding season and will be distributed in the relevant SPAs. The number of the installed warning signs in one SPAs depends on the number of the breeding sites as well as their area.
LOD is responsible for implementation of this action.
- Proper planning of the species conservation actions (C4)
One Important Bird Area (IBA) - Nemunas islands near-by Lipliūnai settlement, is not designated as the SPA yet. Thus, this action will be focused on the filling of all this gap in the proper designation of the SPAs network, which is targeted for the improvement of the protection of the Common and Little terns breeding population. The LOD already had consultations with the MoE and as a result the principle agreement to designate of new SPA was reached.
Sartai Regional Park, which is designated as SPA already for protection of number of the forest and waterbird species also has potential breeding habitats for the Common tern. However, lack of the proper breeding habitats does not support establishment of the stable breeding population of this species, although Common tern is very numerous during migration and at the beginning of the breeding season there. This is why administration of this protected area provided their commitments to support creation of the artificial islands, which should be suitable for the breeding Common tern (Action C.2) with the commitment on the further maintenance of these artificial islands after the end of the project. This pushed CB – LOD to make the efforts on the creation of the artificial breeding sites for Common tern with a condition that this SPA also will be designated for the protection of the Common tern.
Besides, several fish-pond areas create perfect conditions for the breeding Common and Little tern populations. Some of them even reaching SPA designation criteria for these species. However, intensive management of those fish-pond areas is characteristic for these territories. From another hand, all fish-pond aquaculture farms applied successfully for funding to the National Aquaculture Environmental program under the EU Fishery Fund. However, very few measures, which are eligible for funding and support Common and Little terns breeding populations are included into this programme. Competent authority – Ministry of Agriculture (MoAgre) commented such situation by lack of the appropriate and exhaustive recommendation on this issue. The LOD decided to fill this gap and support MoAgr making missing recommendations.
LOD is responsible for implementation of this action.