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> Fundación Global Nature / Proyectos / Conservación de flora y fauna / CICONIA PROJECT

1.- The White Stork in Extremadura

Extremadura has the biggest white stork population of Spain (11.044 breeding pairs out of 32.923 breeding pairs in Spain). 62% of the white stork population in Extremadura nests in Cáceres province (6.833 pairs).

This population tendency is being reverted lately by the closing of waste disposal sites, changes in agriculture, shocks in electric cables and by the rejection and elimination of nests in urban buildings.

Another recent change is that the stork has gone from being a summer migrant to maintaining a significant population here during the winter, linked almost exclusively to the waste disposal sites.

The white stork it is a bird species which is very closely related to Extremadura villages. Their inhabitants have always lived in contact with this emblematic animal, origin of numerous sayings and proverbs. Although in general the storks continue being accepted in Extremadura, they are increasingly rejected owing to the damage caused by nesting in buildings.

2.- Conservation of the black and white storks. Previous actions.

The Global Nature Foundation has been developing projects of conservation and environmental education on the white and black storks (Ciconia ciconia and Ciconia nigra) for over 10 years.

For the implementation of these projects the Global Nature Foundation has received logistical and financial support from the CICONIA Foundation.

The actions implemented have been the following:

- Workshops and games within the framework of the Stork Week of the council of Malpartida de Cáceres.

- Environmental Education Programs for schools through conferences and dynamic activities.

-Field trips with schools and centers for disabled people.

-Taking off the rope of the nests in Cáceres and Badajoz provinces.

- Building up of nesting sites in natural areas to diminish the pressure on urban areas.

- Reforestation around the wetlands.

Since 2006, Fundación Global Nature and CICONIA Foundation develop a new project in the municipality of Talaván, in different properties around "El Baldío" estate. This property belongs to the Fundación Global Nature, located in the municipality of Talaván (Cáceres), 30 kilometres from Cáceres, and 20 km from the Natural Park and Biosphere Reserve of Monfragüe.

This is a pilot project including some actions that are intended to be reproduced in other private properties in areas of significance for storks, through the creation of a biological reserves network by means of agreements with Fundación Global Nature.

The project area belongs to Natura 2000 network.

The project investment is 170.000 Euros for the period 2006-2009.

3.- Location of the project

The actions of the project are located in the area which takes its name after the rivers Tajo, Salor and Almonte which belong to the province of Cáceres. This region has an average altitude of about 400 meters above sea level and presents a flat topography. It has a total extension of 2.345km2 and, approximately, 80% of the white stork population of Cáceres can be found here.

Land is most frequently used as meadows, pastures, dry crops, wetlands for cattle and small dumps for human consumption, which constitutes a clear indicator of the cattle breeding vocation of the area and a high quality habitat for white stork.

Talaván's municipality, in which the "El Baldío" farm is located and where the project began to be implemented, belongs to the region of Cuatro Lugares, 33 Km from Cáceres. Within this area the municipal limits of Talaván, Hinojal, Santiago del Campo and Monroy are found. It is an extensive plain at between 300 and 400 metres above sea-level, delimited in the north and the south by the Tajo River and its tributary, the Almonte river.

The landscape of the municipality is mainly composed of pastures of oak (Quercus rotundifolia), with some seasonal riverbeds and a great number of artificial pools for the cattle which accomplish an important duty for the maintenance of species linked to the aquatice

The land "El Baldío" has been used from 1993 to develop various Conservation Programs of Native Breeds of Cattle (White Cow Cacereña, Black Merina Ewe, Frontier Retinta Goat and Castilian Black Hen), as well as an agrarian management that has allowed the Global Nature Foundation to combine conservation and production.

In 1994 this Foundation was one of the first beneficiaries to apply in this land an agrarian earth reforestation to turn properties into meadows. This experience was extended later on to other private owners and councils of the Region. Since then the “El Baldío” has received different aids for the maintenance of a program for reforestation of a total of 119 hectares.

The property of “El Baldío” offers a great environmental value. Consequently, its management aims at environmental restoration to promote the conservation of wild species and to increase scientific and tourist attractive.

4.- Actions of the project

4.1- Purchase of plots surrounding the land “ El Baldío”

4.2- Creation of a private Biological Reserve Network through the signing of cooperation agreements with private owners.

4.3- Actions developed in the estates of the private Biological Reserves Network:

• Construction of new wetlands to increase the amount of trophic resources available.
• Restoration and conservation of the aquatic and riverside vegetation surrounding wetlands of the property and protecting it from cattle damage.
• Installation of different types of nesting platforms.
• Actions to increase the biodiversity of the property.

4.3.1- El Baldío

4.3.2- El Higueral

4.3.3- El Membrillar

4.3.4- El Excedente

4.3.5- La Grande4.4- Dissemination, environmental education and activities with students. Awareness and educational material.

4.4.1- Educational material

4.4.2- Activities with students

4.4.3- “Viva CICONIA” Conferences

4.1- Purchase of plots surrounding the land “ El Baldío”

In the Southwest of the property, in its central part, there are plots of land that didn´t belong to Fundación Global Nature. However, they are very interesting for nature conservation purposes. Many of them are half-abandoned.

Although small, the two plots bought are crossed by the stream of Marvicente, the same that nourishes the bigger wetland of the "El Baldío" in which otter (Lutra lutra) is detected permanently. In fact, this stream is used by the otter as a corridor to move from the Talaván dam to the rest of small wetlands of the property.

In these properties, with a surface of just one hectare, we can find the greatest concentrations of birds in the area, because the existence of permanent water as well as of fruit trees, vineyards and olive trees that have not receive any type of attention from their proprietors, because these were practically abandoned. The second goal is to put them in value, recovering the slopes of the mentioned stream, making improvements in the fruit trees and recovering the traditional grazing.

Pictures of the plots bought:

4.2- Creation of a private Biological Reserve Network through the signing of cooperation agreements with private owners.

Fundación Global Nature maintains a Network of Private Biological Reserves in the Southeast of the Iberian Peninsula. It consists of more than 150 reserves and covers more than 7.000 hectares. The creation of this network has made it possible to involve private landowners in the conservation and management of the Natura 2000 Network.

This initiative has been extended to Cáceres province. The main goal was the construction of new wetlands at private properties, creating a Private Biological Reserve Network in Extremadura. Those owners who have signed agreements with Fundación Global Nature want to do the same actions, not only for the stork’s habitat preservation, but also to extend the actions to different bird species, as crane, rabbits, etc.

The experience of the Global Nature Fund in the Southwest of Sapin, creating one of the first private biological reserves network in Spain is the model of act of a private reserve network in Extremadura. Until now, 12 agreements have been signed with the properties of:

Municipality: Talaván

1.- "El Baldío del Higueral" 208 ha Dehesa

2.- "El Membrillar" 348 ha Dehesa

3.- "El Excedente" 307 ha Dehesa

4.- "La Grande Norte" 168 ha Dehesa

5.- "Finca Antonio Barco" 0,5 ha Traditional olive yard

6.- "Finca A Rodríguez" 4 ha Traditional olive yard

7.- "Vajuncoso" 5 ha Traditional olive yard

8.- "El Olivar" 0,5 ha Traditional olive yard

Municipality: Madroñera

9.- "Valdelamadera" 31 ha Oak dehesa (Quercus pyrenaica) Municipality: Mata de Alcántara

10.- "Vaquito" 289 ha Dehesa

11.- "Hondita" 106 ha Dehesa Municipality: Cilleros

12.- "Valgallego" 56 ha Oak dehesa (Quercus pyrenaica)

Farm “El Higueral” Mr. José María Cobos Fernández

Farm “El Membrillar”Mr. Fidel Alonso García

Farm “El Excedente” Mr. Ángel García Blanco

Farm “La Grande”. Mr. Juan Manuel Fernández González

Sign of agreements with other four properties

Meeting with the mayors of Monroy, Talaván, Hinojal and Santiago del Campo to coordinate different actions on public dehesas of their municipalities.

4.3- Actions developed in the estates of the private Biological Reserves Network:

4.3.1- "El Baldío”

This estate, owned by Fundación Global Nature, has been the central area of the works, intending to be an example of management for other estates in the region. The actions developed here have facilitated and eased the way to convince the neighbouring estates to sign management agreements with the Foundation.

The most important part of the project has been carried out here.

• 4 new wetlands constructed.

Two new wetlands, with a surface around one hectare each one (wetlands number 10 and 11) have been built. Other two new wetlands (wetlands number 12 and 13) have around 5.000 m2 of surface and are between one and two meters deep.

Wetland number 10 in “El Baldío”.

Outline of the group of 13 pools formed in the property thanks to the project

Wetland number 11 in “El Baldío”

At the same way, the fitting out of the wetlands slopes give them a more natural appearance.

A work and management plan has been elaborated with the San Pablo CEU University to carry out regeneration of the fringe vegetation elements, fencing, planting and sowing to improve.

• Revegetation and protection of wetlands banks.

The revegetation around these new is done after a study on the floral and vegetation characterization of the property in collaboration with the Environmental Sciences and Natural Resources Department of the San Pablo-CEU University. They have developed different strategies for the regeneration of the vegetation through sowing and direct afforestation.

Eleocharis palustris with Cyperus badius

These plantations are hand made, recollecting seeds, rhizomes and small plants in the property.

The species used are:

-Typha domingensis.
-Phragmites australis.
-Cypertus badius.
-Juncus conglomeratus.
-Juncus effusus.
-Juncus acutiflorus.
-Glyceria declinata.
-Ranunculus sp.
-Eleocharis palustris.
-Scirpus sp.
-Arundo donax.
-Potamogeton sp.
-Alnus glutinosa.
-Salíx alba.
-Citisus salvifolius.
-Lavándula sampaiana.
Collecting seeds from different species of bushes in “El Baldío” in collaboration

with the University San Pablo CEU in September 2007

The plantations have been protected from the cattle grazing by electric fences installed along their perimeter.

The whole revegetation surface is, approximately, 2.000 m2.

Once the seeds are collected in September, must been kept in a place

waiting for the best time for the plantation.

Juncus acutiflorus,
Eleocharis palustris
andGlyceria declinata

Ranunculus sp.

Potamogetum and
Lemna minor

Collecting of seeds.

Electric fencing

Electric fencing

• Installation of 13 platforms and 2 nests on top of trees for storks.

15 platforms have been installed to solve the problem of lack of nesting sites, counteracting the pressure of storks nesting due to urban construction, and as a pilot experience. These platforms are made on wooden treated poles and two of them on big trees.

Installation of a platform on the top of the woden poles

• Construction of 10 burrows for rabbits. Sowing of 31 ha of cereals and legumes. Actions to increase biodiversity.

A total of 31 hectares have been sown in 2007 and 2008, throughout the months of October and November.

Organic manure, coming from livestock farms, has been used as fertilizer.

The secies used in “El Baldío” were cereals, such as wheat (Triticum sativa) and oats (Avena sativa), and legumes, such as tremosilla (Lupinus luteus). Legumes are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen through symbiotic bacteria located in their roots. To facilitate the incorporation of nitrogen to the soil, part of the Lupinus crop is mown after flowering and incorporated to the soil.

The chosen species of grass are perennial. That saves costs and produce more biomass, creating a balance of species with than legumes.

10 burrows for rabbits have also been placed. All of them were located close to ponds or other water sources and near the plots sown with cereals and legumes. One year later, 7 out of 10 burrows are already occupied by rabbits.

The future goal is to increase the number of burrows at the farm in order to get a stronger population of wild rabbits. These kind of actions for the enhancement and maintenance of the populations of wild rabbit have been identified as priorities within the regional recovery of the Imperial eagle and Iberian lynx.

4.3.2- "El Higueral”

• Enlargement of a pond.

The stream bed of this wetland is very important, because there is rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) presence. The actions consist in several modifications of the slopes (containment wall of the pond) to get more water in the pond. At the same way, the action includes an enlargement of the floodplain to improve the design for the storks and other aquatics bird’s lifestyle.

Once the pond is enlarged, it will be vegetated around its banks with a fringe of macrophytes vegetation.

• Recovery of 3 ponds. Fitting of 3 pylons and their environment.

At this farm we can find one of the most interesting places from the ecological point of view. It is a floodplain zone in which there are a lot of ponds and even nature neglected pools. The action consisted in the fitting out of 3 ponds and the restoration of the nature pools, increasing the habitats availability for the amphibian species.

The restoration work of the ponds has involved in the elimination and cleaning vegetation around it and the fitting out of the slopes to give them a more natural aspect.

Neglected status of the ponds where the action took place

Images of three nature pools

The pylon restoration works included the elimination of most of the vegetation which has grown up in it, rebuilding of the walls to avoid loss of water, fixing the points of entry and exit of water, perimeter fencing to prevent drowning and the collapse by cows or sheep and, finally, the installation of floating structures of entry and exit for amphibians and other aquatic life.

• Construction of 3 burrows for rabbits. Sowing of legumes and cereals.

There is an important presence of wild rabbit in this farm. Even though, there are very few places, as natural burrows, for this species. Around the small ponds and wetlands, three burrows have been installed. The burrows are fenced in an area of 3,000 m2 to prevent access to potential predators (Genetta genetta, Martes foina, Sus scrofa), wild dogs, etc.). Around this fencing, 3 ha of vetch (Vicia sativa) and oats (Avena sativa) have been sown for the feeding of the rabbits.

• Installation of 4 platforms for storks.

One of the platforms has been installed close to the biggest pond. The other three platforms are near the smaller ponds and the pylons restored.

4.3.3- "El Membrillar”

• Installation of 4 nesting platforms.

This action will proceed in the same manner as it was done in the first phase of the project with the installation of platforms at the farm "El Baldío." The platforms are located near to large existing reservoirs, two in each wetland.

• Construction of 3 burrows. Sowing of cereals and legumes in 3 ha.

They have also been installed around the ponds and reservoirs of the farm. The burrows are made accumulating three layers of surface materials. Thick pallets or logs are piled on the floor, forming the galleries and entries. This layer may be replaced by stone, according to the existing materials in the area.

Shrub branches or other materials (30 cm thick) cover the whole structure.

As the objective is to perform erosion control and improvement of pastures, other 3 ha of legumes and cereals have been sown. These crops are left for wild rabbits.

The sowing mixes “tremosilla” (Lupinus luteus), oats (Avena sativa), wheat (Triticum sativum), barley (Hordeum vulgare) and some other pasture species (Trifolium, Ornithopus, Medicago, etc.). The agreements signed with the properties compel the owners to leave crops untouched, without any agricultural or grazing use.

4.3.4- "El Excedente”

• Construction of one new wetland.
•Installation of 5 platforms for nesting.
• Construction of 3 burrows. Sowing of cereals and legumes in 4 ha.

The farm is predominantly used by sheep, with a herd of 2.000 heads. It is important to emphasize that the existing large wetland is occasionally used as a resting place by cranes.

• Construction of one new wetland.

There is currently a small pond stocking which supplies water to the herds of sheep. This small wetland holds water all year round. It was considered interesting to make an enlargement of it, making a larger pond with an area close to 5.000m2.

The pond was enlarged minimizing the loss of trees. The topsoil from the basin was extended on the surface of the slopes to facilitate natural revegetation, with gentle and stable slopes and stable.

• Installation of 5 platforms for nesting.

Following the same criteria, 5 platforms have been placed near the ponds and wetlands.

• Construction of 3 burrows. Sowing of cereals and legumes in 4 ha.

Close to the new wetland, 3 burrows for wild rabbits have been constructed.

In the northern part of the farm, a clearance of shrub layer was performed, leaving untouched the trees. In order to control erosion and to improve the quality of pastures, 4 hectares of land were sown, combining cereals and legumes.

4.3.5- "La Grande”

The farm is located in the heart of the SPAB water reservoir of Talaván. The southern end of the property coincides with the water reservoir on the margins of which are important species of wildlife such as Tachybaptus ruficollis, Podiceps cristatus, Ciconia ciconia, Anser anser, Anas penelope, Anas strepera, Anas platyrhynchos, Anas acuta, Anas clypeata, Aythya ferina, Aythya fuligula, Gallinula chloropus, Fulica atra, Himantopus himantopus, Glareola pratincola, Charadrius dubius, Tringa ochropus, Larus ridibundus and Chlidonias Niger.

The farm is a place of rest and feeding routine for large flocks of crane (Grus grus) and to a lesser extent, of Otis tarda, both species readily observable during the winter months. For a few years, moreover, the farm is very frequently overflow by a pair of imperial eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), which nests in trees close to it.

Talaván water reservoir

Even though the farm has a clearly livestock objective, the property is open to include the conservation of species (birds principally) who find refuge and habitat in the water reservoir of Talavan and their immediate environment.

As a result of the conversations with the owners the actions will be implemented are the following:

• Construction of a pond.
•Improvement of another pond.
• Installation of 5 nesting platforms.
• Construction of 8 burrows. Sowing of cereals and legumes in 8 hectares.
• Construction of a pond.

One of the quarters of this farm has no pond to provide water to livestock. A big new wetland has been constructed to supply water for sheep and to improve the habitat, not only for white storks, but also for cranes, that spend the winter in the vicinity of the water reservoir of Talaván.

• Improvement of another pond.

In another quarter of the farm, we can find a very small pond. The action undertaken here was its enlargement and improvement of the banks. This pond grows up thanks to a spring that emerges few meters deep. The work included the change of slopes to receive more water and the improvement of itsnatural aspect.

• Installation of 5 nesting platforms.

The neighbouring estates around the water reservoir of Talaván excellent habitats for white stork, although there is a serious problem due to the lack of trees or buildings in which to locate their nests. As an example, there are 17 nests concentrated on a building next to this estate.

Based on this, and in order to facilitate the breeding of white stork, 5 platforms have been installed at the farm. Two of the platforms are close to the Talaván water reservoir, another one is close to the new constructed pond and the rest are close to the previous wetlands.

• Construction of 8 burrows. Sowing of cereals and legumes in 8 hectares.

We can find in this farm large flocks of cranes during winter. They use as a sleep place.

Farmers are not interested in sowing cereals in this area because of the extensive damage that occur in their farms as result of the cranes visit. There is no economic compensation by the regional government up to now. That´s the reason why 8 ha of cereals and legumes have been sown here, especially oats.

Here we can also find an important wild rabbit. This population is distributed along the Marivicente stream which crosses the farm. That stream is one of the two water flows that go to the Talaván water reservoir.

This rabbit population could be bigger if they would have more burrows and another artificial places as refuge. That is why 8 new burrows have been made. This action will be especially useful for the golden eagle and some other species of prey that inhabit this area.

4.4- Dissemination, environmental education and activities with students. Awareness and educational material.

4.4.1- Educational material

In the frame of the project 5.000 brochures and 2.000 didactic units about the white and the black storks have been edited. Two panels have also been designed and installed.

The didactic material includes a guide for teachers and 12 cards for children, mainly primary students.

-Card 1: Storks and people
-Card2: Morphology of the stork
-Card3: Distribution and habitat
-Card4: Nesting and associated problems
-Card 5: Food
-Card 6: Migration
-Card 7: Family and Reproduction
-Card 8: Landfills
-Card 9: Conservation actions of the stork
-Card 10: Mate stork
-Card 11: What can we do?
-Card 12: Your experiences. Observation card

Part of the activities with students have been based on quiz for the elaboration of creative work about the white and black stork and their habitats. A poster for the quiz was edited and sent to all the schools in Cáceres Province.

4.4.2- Activities with students Quiz

The awareness activities have been done with pupils sorrounding the National Park, coming mainly from los Cuatro Lugares area, the municipalities sorrounding the National Park and part of the rest of Cáceres province.

All these activities had as a starting point a quiz for the elaboration of creative works about the white and black stork and their habitats.

The main objective was that Primanry and Secundary students would take contact with the life and the environment of the storks by creative and dynamic activities, as outdoor games, expositions, videos, etc. The winners, together the rest of their classmates, could enjoy a weekend in “La Dehesa” centre.

24 school centres took part of this quiz.

4.4.3- “Viva CICONIA” Conferences

The main objectives of “Viva CICONIA” conferences have been:

• Expand students knowledge on the characteristics and living habits of the stork through a simple and clear pedagogy, based on outdoor activities.

• Appreciate the value that Black and White Storks bring to the natural environment of Extremadura.

• Awareness about problems that currently affect storks.

• Create and implement interactive games to promote the student participation in workshops and other activities.

• The importance of the National Park as Monfragüe for Extremadura and its social impact and role for a sustainable development in the region.

• Get the knowledge about the typical environmental characteristics of the pastureland of Extremadura, through visiting “El Baldío” farm.

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La Fundación Global Nature se constituyó con ámbito nacional y sin ánimo de lucro en 1993. Está inscrita en el Registro de Fundaciones del Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente con el nº 280032.

La Fundación tiene como fines primordiales el desarrollo sostenible y la calidad del ambiente. Para la promoción de dichos fines, la Fundación velará por la protección de los valores ambientales, culturales y de responsabilidad social, participando en su planificación y en su gestión,incluyendo aquellas actividades socioeconómicas que le son afines.

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