LIFE Paludicola project

The LIFE Paludicola project (LIFE16 NAT/ES/000168 “Restoration of the autumn and spring migration habitat for the aquatic warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola) in the Iberian Peninsula” intends to halt the aquatic warbler population decline, the most endangered passerine bird in Europe.

Spain is located in one of the main migratory routes of the aquatic warbler from Europe to Africa. Therefore, the survival of this species is directly linked to the conservation of the ecosystems that it uses in its migrations. In its long journeys to the breeding or resting sites it uses reed beds close to water bodies to rest and it feeds on Scirpus sp. and Carex sp. aquatic plants. Almost 60% of the wetlands in the Iberian Peninsula have disappeared in the last century, thus generating a major problem that affects the conservation of the aquatic warbler.

In order to halt the species’ population decline the project will work in three Spanish regions where the aquatic warbler’s migration routes have been identified: Castilla y León, Castilla la Mancha and Valencia

Project objectives:

  • To halt the aquatic warbler population decline, which is a priority species included in Annex I of the Birds Directive. There are less than 9,000 – 13,800 males and a breeding surface of 375 km2.
  • To increase the wetlands’ surface in the migratory routes by purchasing plots close to wetlands and by developing hydraulic works that ensure temporary flooding of shallow and steppe wetlands.
  • To increase the surface of open prairies of helophytic plants, which is a habitat that the species uses in its pre and post-nuptial migration in Spain (most of these habitats are priority habitats and are included in Annex I of the Habitats Directive).
  • To manage the vegetation located in wetlands in a traditional manner. This vegetation allows the creation of the favourable habitats for these birds, which have been lost in many cases. The project will increase the available habitat surface in at least 336 hectares in 9 areas of the three mentioned regions: Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León and Valencia. The management techniques include mechanical mowing, controlled grazing, soil layering, planting herbaceous and bush plant species or stopping periodic burning.
  • To improve knowledge about this species’ very scarce population and exchange the generated knowledge with stakeholders in northern Europe to improve and coordinate conservation and habitat management measures.
  • To disseminate information about the situation of the species and the benefits of turning back to traditional vegetation management in wetlands among the local population.
  • To create a draft for a National Strategy for the Conservation of the Aquatic Warbler in Spain and to contribute to the development of specific agri-environmental programmes that will ensure legislative and financial measures that allow implementing sustainable management plans in the long- term.

The LIFE Paludicola project is developed between 2017-2020 and the project partners are Fundación Global Nature ( and the Castilla y León regional government ( The initiative is supported by the LIFE financial instrument of the European Commission, The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment through the Biodiversity Foundation (, the Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Environment, Climate Change and Rural Development of Valencia (, Torreblanca City Council ( and INFERTOSA S.A. (

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Desde 1993 dedicados a la conservación de la naturaleza y la funcionalidad de los ecosistemas

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