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Conservation of the natural wet habitat of Satchinez (continuation of the project 99NAT/RO/006394) (Satchinez II)
Start date: Oct 1, 2002, End date: Sep 30, 2005 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background Satchinez is a commune of the county of Timis in Romania. It hosts marshes rich in valuable bird communities. Significant nesting populations of various rare bird species are breeding here, including the Bittern (Botaurus stellaris), the Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca), and the Corncrake (Crex crex). This is also an important wintering ground for ducks and geese, including the Lesser White-fronted Goose(Anser erythropus). Species mentioned ofthe Habitats Directive occuring in this wetland include the Otter (Lutra lutra) and the Fire-bellied Toad (Bombina bombina). During the 1970s, hydraulic works and drainage operations were carried out to expand the agricultural land. These activities were not carried out directly on the reserve that was established in 1954, however they indirectly affected its hydrology. Human activities such as wood cutting, grazing animals, fishing and poaching were also impacting negatively on the sites. A first LIFE project ran in the area from 1999-2002 (LIFE99 NAT/RO/006394). It aimed at the preparation of a suitable management plan for this natural area. The new project was a continuation of that work. Objectives The project aimed to ensure appropriate management of the birds’ habitats and particularly their feeding places - temporary water bodies - in the reserve. It envisaged implementing the management plan established during the previous project, which also targeted the buffer area. The actions foreseen in the project included some hydro-technical works in the buffer zone to extend the wetlands, a global ecological study of the whole site and the establishment of a small administrative centre for the protected area. It was also intended to improve the surveillance of the protected site. Finally, the project sought to establish and maintain good collaboration with other LIFE-Nature projects, promoting the natural heritage of the site and disseminating the project's results. Results The project succeeded in implementing the management plan drawn up through the previous project LIFE 99 NAT/RO/006394. It focused on reducing the impact of human activities on the site, particularly by raising awareness of the local community of its importance, and increased monitoring and security activities. The project saw evidence of a decrease in damaging activities in the reserve such as grazing, poaching, voluntary fires and wood cutting. Furthermore, the Romanian Ministry of Environment included the Satchinez marshes in the first list of sites propodsed to be included in the Natura 2000 network. The hydrogeological works achieved an extension of the surface of the wetland by at least 30 ha, and created appropriate water levels in the buffer zone. This extension of the wetland will improve the food base for bird during periods of deficient humidity. The project also carried out a complex ecological study of the area including air-survey photographs and it clarified the boundaries of the reserve with the help of GPS. 11 main habitat types were identified. Using this work, a scientific monography was published and distributed. This represents an important guide for future studies and for the on-going monitoring of the reserve. A new administrative centre was created, with a library and a functional space equipped for running awareness-raising and ecological-education activities with the local population. Facilities were also included to support the future warden’s activities in managing the reservation. Diverse dissemination actions were successfully carried out, including the running of a web site and the publication of informative materials. Meetings were organised with local people to introduce them to ecological issues. A particular communication effort has been made with local stakeholders in order to define the practical management requirements for the area. Given the low socio-economic conditions that characterise the area, changing attitudes of the population will remain a challenge into the future.

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