Romanian project to rescue Red-breasted Geese

An icon European bird species needs farmers' support to survive.

Red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis)

The Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis) is listed as Endangered on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Around 37,000 remaining birds use farmland for their wintering ground in Europe. Farmers receive no compensation for crop damage caused by grazing geese. As a consequence, to protect their livelihoods, farmers use pesticides and poisons to harm the feeding birds.

The IUCN Sir Peter Scott Fund supports a project established in Romania to address these issues. The country supports 20 per cent of the European population of Red-breasted Geese, including their main winter feeding ground in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve. Given their dependence on farming habitat, agricultural policy is crucial for the conservation of the species. Engaging with and supporting farmers is a key focus of this project, particularly in encouraging the adoption of more sympathetic farming methods that avoid harming the geese.

Recent talks with Romanian Ministry of Agriculture staff indicate that the agri-environment schemes promoted by the project have been taken up by many farmers in Romania. A management plan has also been submitted to the Ministry of Environment for the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve to provide a secure future for Red-breasted Geese at the heart of their existing range. This project is supported by the IUCN SSC and Wetlands International Goose Specialist Group.

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