Home About us Contacts Links flag flag

COORDINATION: Beatriz Arroyo (ES),  Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (IREC)

CEABN/InBIO TeamSusana Dias



- IREC (ES); Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage (ONCFS),  Office Français de la Biodiversité, OFB (FR); Fundación Artemisan (ES); Univ. de Lleida (ES); Biodiversity and Landscape Ecology lab, Centre de Ciència i Tecnologia Forestal de Catalunya (CTFC)ATECMA (ES);

Turtle doves are currently in severe decline but can be legally shot during migration across much of Europe, with a bag estimated at 1,150,000 birds for the western flyway alone. Recent research has demonstrated that this level of take is unsustainable. The 2018 Species Action Plan (SAP) called for a voluntary moratorium of hunting this species while an adaptive harvest management plan was set in place, although this point of the SAP was contested by several Member States. Instead, countries like France, Spain and Portugal have reduced hunting pressure (France reduced bag limits from ca. 92,000 to 18,000 in 2019 following outputs from a demographic population model; Spain and Portugal have proposed a reduction of the legal hunting days to 4 starting in 2020; also in Portugal  hunting sessions were limited to mornings) but the impact of this level of take is unknown, and there is currently no official approaches for habitat management in either country.  

The EC issued a tender for a contract to develop a population model and adaptive harvest mechanism (AHM) for turtle dove, which should specifically integrate also habitat management from hunters. The contract has been awarded to the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) through the Institute of Game and Wildlife Research in Spain (IREC) by a team led by Dr Beatriz Arroyo, and including 15 researchers/experts from 7 organisations in 3 countries.

Achieving a workable mechanism for AHM is an explicit action within the European Turtle Dove Species Action Plan, and if a mechanism can be successfully implemented, and endorsed by the European Commission, BirdLife Europe, FACE and others, it could be extended to other species of concern in the future.

This contract thus offers an opportunity to deliver some decisive work on hunting of turtle doves in the EU over the next 15 months and potentially beyond, when the AHM mechanism is in place, to halt the species population trend, and to establish a mode of work for international cooperation towards sustainable hunting of migratory species in the future.

The project is organised in 4 tasks described below. Due to COVID 19-restrictions, some events and deliverables were postponed and shifted a few months in respect to the original proposal.

Task 1: Organisation of four workshops

Two exploratory workshops will be organized in 2020 and two follow-up workshops in March 2021. Through this task the consortium will carry out an inclusive consultation process, in parallel for each flyway, aimed at gathering the views of the authorities, experts and stakeholders involved in hunting and those responsible for the conservation and sustainable use of the species, as a natural value and as a resource. Technical recommendations will be presented at these workshops and discussed.

Task 2: Predictive population model

This task aims at assessing hunting possibilities in each flyway to ensure sustainability of hunting. It will implement a population model to allow this assessment, which will allow produce recommendations to Member States for the 2021-2022 hunting season in the Western Flyway, based on existing information (which will be discussed in a meeting in DG ENV premises with representatives of the FR, ES and PT authorities and stakeholders), and for the 2022-2023 hunting season, based on outputs of the population model.  Finally, the task will also explore the best regulatory mechanisms to achieve agreed hunting objectives (through analyses of existing data and discussions with competent authorities).

Task 3: Linking hunting and habitat management measures.

This task aims to address how to assess, enhance and promote the beneficial consequences of hunters’ engagement in habitat management. For that purpose, we will assess which are the best (in terms of efficiency, reliability in relation to impact, and feasibility in relation to implementation) habitat management tools to benefit turtle doves (through a literature review), which are the habitat management tools currently implemented by hunters (through a questionnaire and interviews with hunters), how much these two sets of tools match, and how to improve or maintain current habitat management. Additionally, we will assess how habitat management measures can be associated with an AHM mechanism for the Turtle Dove (through discussion groups with stakeholders), and how to communicate on an adaptive harvest management mechanism that is also linked to benefits for habitats to gain more support from the conservation and hunting communities.

Task 4: Adaptive harvest management mechanism

This task aims to assess the different steps needed to put in place an AHM mechanism for the hunting of Turtle Dove in the European Union. In particular, to develop a modus operandi, including assessments of the mechanisms to facilitate the decision-making process, the information to be gathered at each step, including protocols and comparability among countries, as well as financing mechanisms for ensuring its implementation and continuity.