Lithuanian waterbirds given a helping hand thanks to €17,000 WHCT grant

Pochards flying over wetlands in Lithuania 

Pochards flying over wetlands in Lithuania - Credit: WHT

The Wildlife Habitat Charitable Trust (WHCT) has pledged €17,000 in funding for the sustainable management of key habitats for breeding and migratory populations of waterbirds in Lithuania; the funding comes as stage two of a project aimed at protecting the habitat/breeding ground of the common pochard in the country.

The grant will enable country-wide bird surveys and the preparation of special management plans for a network of manmade wetland habitats in the form of large fishpond complexes in the country; the fishponds are ecologically important areas for birds, and some of the larger ponds hold rare bird species. During the project, habitats for waterbirds will be restored.

This funding is stage two of a project aimed at protecting the habitat and breeding grounds of the common pochard in Lithuania, following an €18,000 WHCT grant in 2018. Work will begin in the new year.

Dr Saulius Svazas, project co-ordinator, said: “We are grateful to the WHCT for this grant which will allow us to understand in greater detail the behaviour of birds across this network of wetland habitats.

“Large fishponds managed for aquaculture are ecologically important areas for birds and are characteristic of Eastern and Central Europe. Some of the larger fishpond complexes in Lithuania hold internationally important populations of rare bird species and, during this project, habitats for waterfowl will be restored at selected key sites.

“We hope that sustainable management practices used in Lithuania can eventually also be successfully applied in similar habitats in other countries across the region.”

Paul Williamson, secretary to the Wildlife Habitat Charitable Trust, said: “The WHCT is delighted to support Dr Svazas and his team with another pioneering project to understand in greater detail the breeding and staging populations of waterbirds across this network of wetland habitats in Lithuania.

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“Of particular importance to the WHCT are aspects of the project that raise awareness with those who live and work in the vicinity of the project sites. It is crucial that sustainable management is embedded in everyday activity and local communities that use the areas.”