On 16 July 2019, an agreement was signed for the second consecutive year between the Tour du Valat and the Domaine de La Forêt vineyards in Mas-Thibert (commune of Arles), to promote the protection of around twenty pairs of Collared Pratincoles that have been present there since spring. The birds had already been identified in cereal-producing areas there in 2018 by a ranger-manager of the Vigueirat Marshes.
This agreement provides for preventing disturbances to the birds from normal agricultural practices such as ploughing, irrigation, mowing, and moving vehicles, on an area of 5 hectares during the Pratincoles’ summer nesting period, in exchange for monetary compensation.
The Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola) is a migratory species that is one of the highest priority conservation issues in the Camargue. The region is the only area in France where these birds are present from April to September, and is at the northern limit of their range in western Europe. The species is therefore classified as ‘endangered’ according to the criteria of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (learn more). Pratincoles tend to settle in agricultural areas, where they are very vulnerable to agricultural work, floods, and disturbances.
The Tour du Valat has been monitoring the number of pairs and their breeding success in the Camargue annually since 2011. This monitoring follows up on the introduction of a protocol in 2000 by the PACA nature conservation agency, under which ten years of monitoring was conducted. Monitoring is currently being carried out in collaboration with the Camargue Regional Natural Park as part of the ‘Camargue’ Natura 2000 site activities (learn more).
In 2019, six sites hosted 75 nesting pairs, and more than 60 young birds were able to take flight at the end of the summer for their wintering areas in Sahelian Africa.
Breeding success in the Camargue is still too low to ensure a long-term viable and sustainable population.
This is why agreements are being drawn up with farmers in the region in the aim of establishing conservation measures in the agricultural areas that host Pratincole colonies in the Camargue, similar to the agreement with the Domaine de La Forêt vineyards.
- Jocelyn Champagnon, Research Scientist at the Tour du Valat (e-mail)
- Cécile Moncourtois, Natura 2000 Project Manager, Camargue Regional Natural Park (e-mail)
See links and documents that can be downloaded below.