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Research article2019Peer reviewedOpen access

Conservation success or increased crop damage risk? The Natura 2000 network for a thriving migratory and protected bird

Nilsson, Lovisa; Bunnefeld, Nils; Persson, Jens; Zydelis, Ramunas; Mansson, Johan


Protected areas are important to support biodiversity and endangered species. However, they are often too small to fulfill the resource requirements of many large and mobile wildlife species, especially when congregating in large numbers. In such cases, wildlife may overflow onto surrounding human-dominated land and cause impacts. The aim of the EU Natura 2000 network is to increase supranational connectivity between protected areas for migratory and protected species such as the common crane (Gras grus). The crane population along the Western European flyway has been increasing rapidly in recent decades, with peaks of 200,000 cranes at specific Natura 2000 sites. We studied 32 GPS-tagged cranes over four migration periods, to test the use of the network by cranes and the potential for impacts on adjacent farmland. During the night time, the probability that roosting cranes were located on Natura 2000 sites was 97%. During daytime, the probability of foraging cranes being located on arable land was 68%. The probability of foraging cranes occurring on agricultural fields close to Natura 2000 sites decreased with distance. Such foraging patterns may fuel conflicts between conservation and agricultural objectives. To resolve these conflicts we suggest improved cross-boundary collaboration and policy development among involved states, combined with stakeholder participation to implement effective compensation and damage prevention strategies which are focused upon networks of protected areas.


Birds directive; Crop protection; EU; Geese; Grus grus; Protected area

Published in

Biological Conservation
2019, Volume: 236, pages: 1-7

      SLU Authors

      • Associated SLU-program

        Wildlife Damage Centre
        SLU Plant Protection Network

        Sustainable Development Goals

        SDG15 Life on land

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Agricultural Science

        Publication identifier


        Permanent link to this page (URI)