27 January 2009

Raptor Journal Published in Russia Helps Conservation World-wide

[Booted Eagle chicks]

Two Booted Eagle chicks. Photo by Elvira Nikolenko.

A journal with a particular focus on raptors continues to be a leader in providing information for the conservation and management of species world-wide.

The current issue of Raptors Conservation - newsletter of the raptors of the East Europe and North Asia - released in December, has several important article on powerlines, for example. Articles in previous issues have also dealt with this topic and have been helpful in successful programs to conserve raptors, said Igor Karyakin, an editor from the Center of Field Studies.

"As soon as the information about certificated constructions for bird protection from electrocution was published in the journal," Karyakin said, "at once several regions began to equip power lines with those constructions though nobody tried to solve the problem of bird electrocution in the country during 30 years."

"Our journal has been published since January 2005 and already in the second issue (April 2005) there was an article about the results of a project, realized in 2003-2004 by a group of enthusiasts, that aimed to solve this problem in Kalmykiya," a republic in southwest Russia. "This project was successful enough and the wide distribution of the experience through our journal stimulated similar activities in other regions."

Three important articles on this topic are included in the current issue:

[Cover of Raptor Conservation 14]

Cover of the current issue of Raptors Conservation.

1) "Protection of Birds from Electrocution on Power Lines in the Frames of Governmental and Non-Governmental Control on Management of Wildlife"
The article identifies the legal mandate to utilize measures that protect raptors from electrocution on power lines throughout the Russian Federation.
"One of the main documents that defines the necessity of protection of birds in connection to the exploitation of power and communication lines is ‘Requirement on prevention of death of animals in connection to the execution of manufacturing processes, as well as the use of ways, pipelines, communication and power lines’, approved by Decision No. 997 of the Government of the Russian Federation on 13.08.1996. Article 37 of this document declared that the power lines with voltage 6–10 kV should be equipped with bird-protective constructions." Tariffs are levied on the owners of lines where mortality occurs.
2) "Use of GIS Techniques in Estimating the Level of Birds of Prey Electrocution on 6–10 kV Power Lines in the Kinel Region of the Samara District"
3) "First Results from the Application and Estimation of Effectiveness of Modern Bird Protection Constructions on the 6–10 kV Power Lines in Russia" is an evaluation of the success of measures used to reduce raptor mortality.

"As an example, tracing the problem of power lines, the journal showed that the theme is acute for any steppe and forest-steppe regions of Russia, Kazakhstan and even Mexico," Karyakin said. "A huge number of birds die everywhere, especially along the routes for seasonal flights and migrations. When the extent of the problem becomes widely known, it is easier to attract the attention of the society and governmental actors to it.

"The beneficial experience of solving the problem of bird casualties was published from Kalmykiya, following which a project was realized by one active group in Nizhnii Novgorod. Further work was soon afterwards carried out in several regions; in Samara District, Republic of Tatarstan, Kirov District, Republic of Mariy-El, and Smolensk District. In 2008, a pilot project studying bird mortality on power lines was carried out in Tomsk region.

"In our journal we regularly illustrate the theme of bird mortality in connection to power lines, as it is indeed a very important theme, birds of prey having suffered from the economic activities of humans for a long time. At the moment in some regions nature conservation organizations are carrying out work in relation to this problem. It is in our interest to make this issue still more widely known.”

"The same applies to the realization of projects on attracting owls to nesting boxes. As soon as first successful results were obtained in Nizhniy Novgorod District, similar projects were started in Republic of Tatarstan and Samara District. In 2007 first similar projects were carried out in Novosibirsk District and from these the first, and successful, results appeared in 2008.

Cover of a past issue of Raptors Conservation.

"As soon as such information becomes available, it starts to use independently in other regions. For example for the first time in our country the project on artificial nests for raptors was began to realize, the information about which was published in 2005, to 2008 similar projects at the state level has been approved to realize in 7 regions.

"Of course we value the result of this publication as a very important achievement, as in this lie the conservation goals of our journal.

"Our journal is received almost all ornithologists researching birds of prey in Russia and all departments of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Nature Conservation, thus our main aim in the sphere of bird protection is distribution of the information about any nature conservation activities. This facilitates work with governmental bodies, when in separate regions the communities start projects in order to solve these problems. This helps substantially."

The journal includes details on raptors around the world that might be of interest to readers.

"Our readers are mainly concentrated in countries of the former Soviet Union. However, what is especially important for us is that the journal knows and values specialists from all over the world.

"For example, apart from problems of bird mortality on power lines in Mexico, we illustrated an example of population restoration work on peregrines in the state of Vermont (U.S.A.) from 2003-2005, the success of which shows that even with relatively simple means it is possible not only to preserve the existing natural treasures of birdlife, but also to restore already lost populations of birds of prey.

"The journal creates a forum for exchange of experience and opinions, and generates demand for scientific and conservation projects within the field; the audience is very interested in this area of activity."

The current 120-page issue includes news related to raptor conservation and management, reports on conferences and, of course, peer-reviewed articles, and short reports. Examples of notable articles include:

[White-tailed Eagle]

White-Tailed Eagle. Photograph by Sergey Bakka.

  • "Imperial Eagle in Russia and Kazakhstan: Population Status and Trends"
  • "Distribution of the Imperial Eagle in a Steppe Zone of Ukraine"
  • "Attracting Ural Owls to Nest in the Outskirts of Akademgorodok, Novosibirsk, Russia"
  • A wide-ranging article "Contraband of Rare Birds of Prey in Far East is Threat to Their Survival" identifies the travel routes used to illegally transfer captured falcons.
  • "Monitoring Results on the Saker Falcon Population in the Altai-Sayan Region in 2008, Russia"
  • "Locations of Goshawk Habitats in Vegetation Areas of Kerzhenskiy State Nature Reserve, Russia"

"Our journal consolidates the strength of ornithologists and bird lovers, the enthusiasts of birds of prey conservation," Karyakin said. "Birds, like nature overall, do not know boundaries. Similar processes in the populations take place over a vast territory, sometimes separated by several thousands of kilometers. However, ornithologists usually manage to observe the birds only within the limited territories that their studies can cover. Our publication offers the possibility to synthesize results from specialists from different parts of the former Soviet Union. After we have published a row of articles on some common theme from authors previously unknown to each other, these people start to communicate among themselves. After having been published in our journal, a useful experience from one region is taken up by specialists elsewhere. This is well reflected for example in the articles about attracting owls to nest boxes.

"Thanks to our journal, interest in raptors is increasing, among young scientists who are yet to find a focus for their work, as well as among enthusiasts, the bird watchers. Interest in raptor conservation is also growing among ornithologists.

"Successful projects in the sphere of bird conservation, the information about which is published on pages of our journal, inspire more and more people in the regions to use the positive experience and carry out similar projects."

Access to the complete issue is available via a link on the home page of the Siberian Environmental Center. Most articles are published in Russian and English. The printed version has a colour cover and black-and-white pages, while the online version has the numerous maps, illustrations and photographs in colour.

"If there’s no additional sponsor's support, we publish stably 3 issues each year," said Elvira Nikolenko. "If any fund or other sponsors support the edition we publish a 4th issue, as a rule, it’s devoted to a theme which is interested the sponsor's organization."

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