Compensation payments are included as part of this project to support landowners in the implementation of management to ensure suitable habitat for lesser kestrels (action C4) if that gives rise to change in land use and management of the property, resulting in some limitation of its exploitation and, consequently, loss of profit.

Based on the first results obtained on the characterisation of habitat use by the species (action A2), in 2017 landowners will be contacted to explain the objective of the project, about the habitat management planned and how they will be able to collaborate in this. It is aimed that the first collaboration agreements will be signed and the measures planned in action C4 (pilot project to improve foraging habitat) will be put into action during 2018, with implementation running through to the end of the project in 2020.

Compliance to the requirements set out by the European Commission for this type of action will be undertaken as follows:

1. For the formalisation of the compensation payment, collaboration agreements will be used between the General Directorate of the Environment (DGMA) and the owners or those with title of use (such as tenants) of each of the properties.

Based on the experience already gained on earlier LIFE conservation projects, the establishment of compensation payments through an agreement with farmers constitutes the most effective way to involve and engage them in the conservation and improvement of foraging habitat for these birds, given that this is essential for maintaining the appropriate conditions for lesser kestrel in the project’s area.

2. The application of compensation payments will be limited to land situated close to the urban SPAs and the post-breeding roosts of lesser kestrel in order to recover and/or improve the feeding habitat preferred by the species (action C4).

This measure contributes to the conservation of the urban SPAs and the maintenance of the integrity of the Natura 2000 network in Extremadura through its role in combatting one of the main threats facing the lesser kestrel: loss of feeding habitat.

3. The agreement, the instrument that will formalise the compensation payments, will be signed between the DGMA, as a coordinating member of the project, and the owners or titleholders with use of the land, who will be private entities (no agreement is envisaged that will include compensation payments to any public body).

4. The compensation payment will be subject to compliance with the objectives that are established and signed-off in each agreement, such that the farmers will be committed to permitting on their land the measures required to improve the habitat set out in action C4, that will be defined more precisely once the areas of action have been chosen according to the results obtained in the action A2 (Characterisation of Feeding Habitats).

5. Three types of compensation payment are envisaged: for actions on cultivation of rain-fed cereals (with introduction of fallow, delaying harvest and baling, maintaining stubble, height of cutting), for reserve pastures with grazing excluded temporarily and for pastures where no grasshopper control is carried out.

The calculation of the amount that each type of compensation payment will deliver, will take into account as reference the maximum amounts established by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and the Environment and the average prices established by the General Directorate of Agriculture.

6. The collaboration agreements will be in place for the duration of the implementation of the project, being the period in which the compensation payments will be made.

Compensation payments may be adjusted during the project owing to the demonstrative nature of the habitat management envisaged in the pilot action C4.

At the end of the project, and once the utility of the habitat management measures can be demonstrated for improving the conservation status of the species, how to ensure continuity of these activities by landowners will be studied through different types of subsidy that are currently in place or that could be implemented and/or through changes in regulations.

The collaboration framework that will be established through these agreements will result very positive for maintaining through time a fluid and effective relationship between landowners and the Administration in order to improve the conservation status of the lesser kestrel in the urban SPAs in Extremadura.

Responsible for implementation: General Directorate of the Environment.