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Datenbank der Projekte zur ländlichen Entwicklung

Alfalfa farming for red-footed falcon habitat development


This project relates to a Hungarian agri-environment scheme designed to support the conservation status of a bird species which is protected by EU law: the red-footed falcon (Falco vespertinus).



A nature conservation body, MME Birdlife Hungary, used EU funds from the LIFE Nature programme to carry out biodiversity assessment work which confirmed that the population size of red-footed falcons in Hungary had experienced dramatic declines. This was linked to habitat degradation and a new agri-environment scheme (AES) was announced in 2009 to redress the problem. The AES was developed in consultation with nature conservation stakeholders.


The AES (titled ‘Arable farming for red-footed falcon habitat development’) aims to protect red-footed falcon populations in Hungary through agri-environment payments to farmers. The primary objective involves reducing the shortage in foraging grounds during the birds' critical breeding months of May and June. The equivalent of around €2.9 million has been allocated to the AES and area payments of up to €267 per hectare for 5 years are available.

Main activities

The AES promotes: intermittent mowing, arable farming, pasture and fence installation, tree planting, and maintenance of artificial nest sites.Tibor Balázs (a farmer using the AES) says "I cultivate alfalfa which encourages prey for the birds. I take care to harvest two times in the important nesting period and we do not plough the fields annually; this means more small rodents stay in the area and provide food for the falcons. We also leave the bales in the fields for birds to use as perches".

Results & Benefits

Initial results indicate an increase in the red-footed falcon population since the AES was introduced. For example, at the beginning of the project two pairs of falcons were nesting in Mr Balázs' area and this number has now increased to five pairs. Further increases are also expected by the end of the five-year cycle.

Lessons learnt

Stakeholder involvement was a key success factor. Good collaboration was established with experts and farmers. Information was exchanged during the preparation stages so that everyone knew each others' aims. This helped to find mutually acceptable approaches. Forums and training on topics such as monitoring and control of the birds also helped strengthen the effectiveness of the AES.

Project location and other information

The area of the National Park Bükk (Bükki Nemzeti Park), Plain Heves, Name of village: Hevesvezekény



RDP Territory


Total project cost (€)

€267/ha/per year for 5 years

EAFRD contribution (€)

€203/ha/per year for 5 years

National contribution (€)

€64/ha/per year for 5 years

Contact name

Mr. Tibor Balázs


+36 30 514 6739

Languages for contact


At a glance



Final beneficiary type

Individual farmers

Budget range

< €20 000

Start date:


End Date:


Theme / Measure:

• Environment and Sustainable Resource Management
• Sustainable use of agricultural land
• 214. Agri-environment payments


Agri-environment, Sustainable agriculture, Endangered species, Extensive agriculture, Nature conservation

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