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Environmental Management and Restoration of Mediterranean Salt Works and Coastal Lagoons (MC-SALT)
Start date: Oct 1, 2011, End date: Mar 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background In the coastal lagoons of Italy, France and Bulgaria, the following main threats have been identified: a progressive decline in the capacity of water circulation; loss of nesting habitat and disturbance from seagulls (Larus michahellis); loss of attractiveness and historical value; coastal habitat degradation and destruction resulting from the construction of embankments; disruption to hydraulic management and loss of favourable trophic and nesting conditions for birds; loss of suitable breeding conditions for colonial coastal waterbirds, including greater flamingo, pied avocet, slender-billed gull, Mediterranean gull, sandwich tern, gull-billed tern and common tern; disturbance of little tern colonies; loss and degradation of nesting habitat for target bird species; degradation of habitats by invasive species; the collision of birds on electrical lines; and accidental fires. Objectives This project targets six Natura 2000 sites in coastal salt meadows in Italy, France and Bulgaria. It aims to improve the conservation status of coastal and dunes habitat types (in particular, coastal lagoons) and breeding bird species (greater flamingo, as well as various tern, wader and gull species listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive). The main conservation actions to be undertaken are the optimisation of water flow in the salt works (by reconstructing sluices and drainage channels etc.), the creation artificial breeding islands, the purchase of electrical power lines and the management of invasive seagulls. Bird species targeted include: Aythya nyroca; Charadrius alexandrinus; Charadrius dubius; Cygnus olor; Gelochelidon nilotica; Himantopus himantopus; Larus genei; Larus melanocephalus; Larus ridibundus; Phoenicopterus roseus; Podiceps cristatus; Recurvirostra avosetta; Sterna albifrons; Sterna hirundo; Sterna sandvicensis; and Tadorna tadorna. Secondary objectives of the project include the creation of a management model for salt meadows, the drawing up of guidelines for seagull (Larus michahellis) disturbance mitigation, the enhancement of the tourist product and the reduction of the impact of visitors, and the approval of a management plan for the Cervia site. Expected results: The expected results can be summarised as follows: The restoration and conservation of about 14 000 hectares of coastal lagoon habitat, including about 7 600 ha in the Aigues-Mortes site, 5 000 ha in the Camargue, 750 ha in the Cervia site and 600 ha in the Molentargius site; The conservation, including fire prevention and invasive plant removal, of a wide range of habitats, including: Salicornia and other annuals colonising mud and sand, Mediterranean salted meadows; 1420 Mediterranean halophilous scrubs (Sarcocornetea fruticosi); Mediterranean salt steppes (Limonietalia); Southern riparian galleries and thickets (Nerio-Tamaricetea and Securinegion tinctoriae); and shifting dunes along the shoreline with Ammophila arenariae; The construction of a new flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) breeding ground in the Camargue site, and new breeding islets for Recurvirostra avosetta, Sterna hirundo, Sterna sandvicensis, Sterna nilotica and Larus genei. The populations of these species are expected to recover to the sizes recorded during the 1980s to early 2000s in “Ancien salins de Beauduc”; The restoration of suitable breeding conditions, including the mitigation of seagull disturbance, in about 1500 hectares in the Aigues-Mortes site, as well as the burial of 3.5 km of aerial electrical lines, which present a serious threat to the flamingo; The construction of 0.2 ha of new islets at the Cervia site for the breeding of Sterna hirundo, Himantopus himantopus, Recurvirostra avosetta, and Sterna albifrons and for the reduction of seagull disturbance. At the Molentargius site, 0.5 ha of new islets will be constructed for the breeding of Larus genei, Gelochelidon nilotica, Sterna hirundo, Sterna albifrons, Himantopus himantopus, Recurvirostra avosetta and Tadorna tadorna; The creation and printing in four languages (English, French, Italian and Bulgarian) of a management model for the Mediterranean salt work, and the publication of guidelines for seagull disturbance mitigation. Around 2 000 paper copies of the management model (500 for each language) and 2 000 paper copies of the guidelines (500 for each language) will be produced; The construction of two bird-watching towers (useful for monitoring tasks) at the Molentargius site and a bird-watching tower at the Cervia site – the historical building located at the entrance of Comacchio salt work will be renovated; The drawing up of a management plan for the Cervia site IT4070007.
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