Map of the distribution of Osprey in Europe
As we can see, the distribution of Osprey is very uneven across Europe.
It is omnipresent in the northern part and almost absent in the south.
One of the aspects of the European plan concerns the recolonization of the regions from which the osprey has disappeared.
Plan for the Recovery and Safeguard of Osprey in Europe, particularly in the Mediterranean Basin
Ongoing reintroduction programs
Summary of the European plan
The Osprey is an emblematic species of wetland. The European osprey population is divided into two categories: on the one hand, healthy and numerous populations, located in northern Europe (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Russia, etc.), and on the other populations absent or scattered around the Mediterranean Basin. Yet there is a high potential for population development in this area. In the past, the species was the victim of human persecution (a factor that has since declined significantly), because, as a fish-eater, it competed with local fishermen and was considered a pest.
In order to ensure the recovery and conservation of the species, the main objectives of the Plan are to:
- Facilitate the growth and development of osprey populations in Northern Europe, the Baltic States, Germany and Europe.
- Secure the small residual populations in various regions of the Mediterranean basin and South-Eastern Europe
- Within a medium or long term, enlarge the distribution area in Southern Europe
Situation of the Osprey in each country of the European Union
In Finland, artificial platforms as well as monitoring and the management of nests in the framework of “Project Pandion” has been successful and led to a growing osprey population. With c. 1300 pairs, the Finnish population is the third-largest of Europe.
Finnish Osprey Foundation
The osprey disappeared as a breeding species from mainland France by the early 20th century. However, the island population of Corsica has always been present although had all but disappeared by the early 1970s (4 pairs in 1974).
The species spontaneously came back to breed in mainland France in 1984, in the Orleans forest (central France). Currently, the population in central France is estimated to more than 40 pairs, that of Corsica around 35 pairs (MEEDDAT 2009, Mission LPO raptors 2012; Recorbet 2016).
The osprey has been officially recognised as a protected species in France since January 1972. The French Ministry of Ecology, in addition to the creation of the Scandola National Nature Reserve (Corsica) in 1975, carried out two National Action Plans for the species between 1999 and 2012, both in the Centre Val de Loire region and in Corsica (National Action Plan 2009 / DREAL Centre - LPO Mission Rapaces).
Besides the systematic ringing of the young (CRBPO- National Natural History Museum), several scientific studies have been carried out in the Orleans forest since the species return; the main results were presented at the International Orleans Symposium in September 2013. A booklet was published for the Orleans symposium that summarises the research and conservation work for the last 30 years.
The main conservation work included nest surveillance, erecting artificial nest platforms (mainly in state owned forests or on electricity pylons, especially in Sologne), restoring or consolidating natural nests to raise public awareness and to ensure the non-disturbance of breeding areas, both in the forest and on the Mediterranean cliffs of Corsica (so far clearly insufficient in Corsica).
In state forests, the National Forestry Office (ONF) is conducting appropriate management of woodlands to protect birds of prey and has established specific requirements, preserving pockets of old trees, restricting forest activities in breeding areas and creating a protective perimeter around nesting sites, beneficial for the regional population of ospreys.
In the Centre Val de Loire region in 2016, a major awareness campaign was launched by the National Forestry Office (ONF), the NGO “Loiret Nature Environnement”, the Electricity Distribution Network (Rte) and the Orleans Museum of Natural Sciences, within the concept of the Pan-European Plan. Ecological and behavioural studies are planned, as well as multimedia activities and a permanent display in the Museum of Orleans which is under renovation.
Today a third Action Plan has been claimed by the LPO and naturalist NGOs to the Ministry for Ecology, to continue the actions in favour of the Osprey, including supporting the species in other regions where it is likely to settle. Reintroduction is not a priority action in France but two projects are being studied, in the Réserve naturelle du Marais d’Orx (Landes de Gascogne) and in Grande Camargue (Bouches du Rhône).
Corsican authorities have been appealed for more active protection to ensure the non-disturbance of the nests in the Scandola Nature Reserve, that keep being disturbed by touristic boat tours during the breeding season.
All the partners of the action plan consider dynamic osprey conservation is much more than a remarkable raptor preservation campaign but also a symbol of protection of biodiversity in aquatic environments (freshwater and marine) and of natural forests.
The Bundesländer of Brandenburg and Bavaria have published official action plans for the osprey. The main actions defined in both action plans are protection of nest sites and the construction of artificial nests.
Translocation or reintroduction is not intended in these action plans.
Also in other Bundesländers, conservation action is undertaken. There is a group of specialists for the species collaborating across Germany. One of the objectives is to extend the German breeding population to the Danube in order to facilitate recolonisation of South-East Europe (D. Schmidt, pers. comm.).
Hungary does not currently host breeding ospreys, but two breeding attempts took place between 1990 and 2010 (Kotyman et al. 2011). The species is a regular migrant.
The osprey reintroduction started in the Maremma Natural Park (Tuscany/Italy) in 2006. It started with 32 chicks coming from the natural marine reserve of Scandola (Corsica) in close collaboration with the Natural regional Park of Corsica. Two pairs were breeding there in 2014 (Monti et al, 2014). In 2015 and 2016, three pairs were breeding.