Saving birds in Europe


This video from Lithuania is called Globally threatened Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola) in Nemunas Delta in 2012. It says about itself:

4 June 2013

Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola) is the only globally threatened passerine bird found in mainland Europe.

Lithuania is among eight countries worldwide with suitable breeding habitats for this rare species. From 2011 it is breeding only in Belarus, Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania. In 2012 63-64 singing males were found in Lithuania.

Aquatic Warbler is a habitat specialist occurring mainly in open sedge fen mires and marshy habitats. Today it is facing extinction due to an increasingly abandoned farmland or transformation of meadows into a grazing land. Therefore its conservation is closely linked to sustainable farming practices.

Video recording made with special permission from Lithuanian Environment Protection Agency.

For more info about Aquatic Warbler conservation in Lithuania and Latvia visit www.meldine.lt/en.

From BirdLife:

BirdLife Partners are LIFE masters!

By Elodie Cantaloube, Mon, 28/04/2014 – 15:34

Each year, the European Commission evaluates all completed projects funded through the LIFE programme and this year, 4 out of the 11 Best LIFE Nature projects receiving the award have been implemented by BirdLife partners. Tomorrow, an award ceremony will be held in Brussels where the leading BirdLife Partners, OTOP (Poland), the RSPB (UK), BirdLife Finland, HOS (Greece) and SPEA (Portugal) will receive an award.

Iván Ramírez, Head of Conservation at BirdLife Europe stresses “It is an extremely important recognition for our partnership, 2013 was a difficult year for conservation, but even more for our BirdLife Partners that fought the financial crisis without weakening their conservation objectives. These four awards are just another example of their incredible work.”

OTOP (BirdLife in Poland) and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) joined forces in the “Aquatic Warbler” project aiming to improve the conservation status of the Aquatic Warbler, at the edge of global extinction.

Europe hosts 99% of the global population of the Vulnerable Aquatic Warbler and Poland is a critical habitat for their survival, being its second-largest population stronghold. During the past century, this species experienced a steep decline due to the drainage of its territories for agriculture. The Aquatic Warbler LIFE project, spanning from 2005 to 2011, sought to stabilise populations at key sites (totally 4,200 ha) in Poland and Germany through the enlargement of suitable habitats and improvements to their condition. The project resulted in increasing populations of the bird species and the re-occupation of restored habitats. New management and enforcement plans are now in place and the future of the species is secured thanks to the project “Facilitating Aquatic Warbler habitat management through sustainable systems of biomass use.”

Kokemäenjoki – From Ancient to the Present Estuary, Kokemäenjoki Wetland Chain”, a BirdLife Finland project aiming to restore natural sites on the River Kokemäenjoki.

The purpose of the Kokemäenjoki project, started in 2006 by BirdLife Finland, was to restore five valuable natural sites on the River Kokemäenjoki, including eight Natura 2000 areas. Mowing and excavation were used to prevent overgrowth and preserve the wetlands that were at risk of becoming marshy and overgrown, causing the loss of valuable species. The area was also managed by cultivating and furrowing the reed roots, imitating the effects of being trampled by cattle, which has proven to be very effective at other similar sites. Birdwatching towers and information boards were put up and a number of nature trails were laid to increase awareness of the incredible natural value of the area. Finally, management and land use plans were developed to ensure future sustainable use of the site for both conservation and recreational activities.

BirdLife Greek and Portuguese Partners complete the project “Concrete Conservation Actions for the Mediterranean Shag and Audouin’s gull in Greece”.

This project, run by HOS (BirdLife in Greece) and SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal), focused on improving the conservation status and breeding performance of Audouin’s Gull and Mediterranean Shag, which inhabit the Aegean Sea and Ionian Sea areas of Greece. The project actions addressed the most relevant threats for the conservation of these two species, namely, rat predation, gull competition and commercial fishing activities that cause accidental birdcatch. Specific actions at project sites included the complete removal of all rats from five Natura 2000 sites, the modification of fishing gear and/or fishing regulations to reduce seabird bycatch and the pilot implementation of control measures to reduce Yellow-legged gull populations, a competitor for food and nesting sites. As a parallel result, 41 marine Important Bird Areas (IBAs) were identified and will be included in the Greek Natura 2000 network, securing their protection as a necessary step to avoid habitat loss and degradation. The project was of utmost importance for seabird and marine conservation in the Eastern Mediterranean; it improved critical habitats, allowed for better seabird breeding sites and created a model that could be easily repeated by neighboring countries.

SPEA and RSPB receive a second award for the project “Safe Islands for Seabirds”.The Azores islands used to be the home of millions of breeding seabirds, but today most of these colonies have decreased drastically as a result of introduced predators and invasive exotic plant species. Started in 2009 and focusing on Corvo (the smallest of all Azorean islands) and Vila Franca islet, this project worked towards the conservation of seabird colonies in the Azores, through habitat restoration and control and eradication of invasive alien species. It also built the first “pest-proof fence” in Europe, following successful experiences carried out in other remote areas such as the Hawaiian islands and New Zealand. As part of a wider restoration plan, several tests evaluating the chances of making Corvo an alien-free island were also implemented. The future of the pest-free fenced zone will be secured thanks to a management protocol signed into place by SPEA and the local authorities.

For more information, please contact Elodie Cantaloube, Media and Communications Officer at BirdLife Europe.

Scientists confirm worst fears: new EU Policy on Agriculture is bad for nature: here.

CIA torture in Lithuania scandal


This video is called Revealing CIA‘s political secrets in Europe(2010).

From the Baltic Times:

Lithuanian prosecutor accused in Guantanamo Bay case

Jan 29, 2014

From wire reports, VILNIUS

Vilnius Regional Court has ruled that prosecutor unfoundedly refused to launch a pre-trial investigation into allegations that Mustafa al-Hawsawi was illegally transferred to and secretly detained and tortured in secret CIA detention centre in Lithuania in 2004-2006, says Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) in a statement.

In September last year HRMI and REDRESS submitted a complaint against prosecutors calling for an investigation into the allegations. The request was refused, and the NGOs appealed to Vilnius Circuit Court, which upheld the prosecutor’s decision.

The higher instance court, however, overruled the judgement and found that prosecutors hastily refused to open an inquiry. The court believed that before making a categorical conclusion that there was no crime committed, the prosecutor should have tried to question al-Hawsawi, currently kept in detention in Guantanamo, and send requests to US institutions.

“This judgement is of great significance on national as well as international level,” said HRMI’s representative Meta Adutaviciute. “It is a huge step forward in protecting human rights [in] Lithuania.”

Al-Hawsawi has not been able to bring a complaint himself, or provide any information to any organisation to bring a complaint on his behalf, because of strict classification rules in place in the United States. The complaint was therefore based on information obtained from public sources.

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Lithuanian CIA torture scandal


This video is called Council of Europe digs for truth on CIA prisons.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain

Lithuania urged to reopen CIA torture probe

Thursday 29 September 2011

by Our Foreign Desk

Amnesty International challenged Lithuania today to reopen its investigation into alleged torture and CIA detention camps citing new evidence of a “rendition” flight to the country.

Amnesty counter-terrorism expert Julia Hall said that a Boeing 727 allegedly carrying Palestinian man Abu Zubaydah landed in Vilnius on February 17 2005 after taking off from Morocco and refuelling in Jordan.

“This is a previously undiscovered flight,” Ms Hall said. “It is crucial to note that this is a flight that does not appear in the parliamentary report, and we have never heard any explanation from the prosecutor general about this flight.”

Two Lithuanian probes – one by a parliamentary committee and another by the country’s prosecutors – have concluded that there was no evidence that people were held in camps controlled by the CIA in the country.

Lithuanian MPs said in a 2009 report that although the government provided two facilities to the CIA in 2002 and 2004 there was no evidence they ever held prisoners.

Prosecutors closed their own probe in January this year, citing the need to protect state secrets.

Ms Hall said: “The Lithuanian authorities should not hide behind the blanket claim of ‘state secrecy’ to prevent allegations of disappearance and torture from being properly investigated.

“They must reopen their investigation into these operations, including the activities of US officials, and hold accountable those responsible for complicity in all abuses that have taken place.”

Earlier this year the London-based Reprieve organisation provided investigators with confidential information that Mr Zubaydah, who was repeatedly tortured by US personnel, had been secretly imprisoned in Lithuania between 2004 and 2006.

“There is enough information in the public domain to make it imperative for the criminal investigation to be reopened. The Lithuanian authorities hold the key to unlocking the whole truth about their country’s role in the rendition and secret detention programmes,” Ms Hall said.

Lithuanian deputy prosecutor-general Darius Raulusaitis would not say yesterday whether the case would be reviewed.

But he said: “We are grateful to Amnesty for their job protecting human rights and would appreciate if more facts on alleged CIA prisons and detainees in Lithuania were presented.”

Reprieve calls on Lithuania to re-open torture site inquiry: here.

Guantanamo detainee takes Lithuania to European Court of Human Rights over secret CIA prison: here.

CIA: Zubaydah’s Torture Drawings, “Should They Exist,” to Remain Top Secret. Jason Leopold, Truthout: “In 2002, not long after he was subjected to so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ by Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, psychologists under contract to the CIA, high-value detainee Abu Zubaydah made about ten drawings depicting the torture he endured while in custody of the agency. One of the drawings Zubaydah had sketched captured in incredible detail the waterboarding sessions he underwent”: here.