RDP project database
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.
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.
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
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
Mr. Tibor Balázs
+36 30 514 6739
Languages for contact
At a glance
Final beneficiary type
< €20 000
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