Olga García García

Dear friends:

From Extremadura I am pleased to welcome you to the VIII International Congress on the Conservation of the Lesser Kestrel to be held from 29th June to 2nd July. The epidemiological situation and the measures aimed at combating the spread of the COVID 19 pandemic have resulted in us delaying its celebration and the modality, originally planned as face-to-face, has been changed to virtual (online).

This conference is part of the LIFE-ZEPAURBAN project coordinated by the Directorate General for Sustainability of the Regional Government of Extremadura and whose main objective is to develop a management model for urban SPAs that ensures the long-term conservation of the lesser kestrel, adopting effective measures to reduce or eliminate its main threats, as this small diurnal and migratory bird of prey is currently present in 19 areas declared as urban SPAs in Extremadura.

It is estimated that the current world population of the lesser kestrel does not exceed 100,000 pairs, of which between 30,500 and 38,000 are in Europe, where it was once one of the most abundant birds of prey, only to suffer a sharp decline during the second part of the 20th century. Recent censuses indicate a significant decline in the number of breeding pairs. Its main threats are the loss of feeding habitat in breeding areas, the elimination of breeding sites, competition with other species for nesting sites, plundering, illegal hunting and electrocutions.

The Congress will present the latest scientific advances on the conservation of the lesser kestrel, analysing the key aspects of its biology, status and the conservation projects that are being developed throughout its area of distribution. As it is an international event and open to a very diverse public, it is considered that the Congress will contribute to the transferability and dissemination of the results of the project, being enriched by the contributions of other
experiences.

The conference programme is diverse and promising. The various presentations will deal with the status and conservation of the species at regional, national and international level. We will also learn about conservation initiatives considered to be of interest, such as those related to feeding, nesting, migration and wintering, reintroduction and reinforcement and awareness-raising. The preliminary results obtained in the LIFE-ZEPAURBAN project will be presented, as well as other LIFE projects that have been developed or are currently being developed. Finally, the future of the conservation of the lesser kestrel will be addressed, dealing with aspects such as cataloguing, the declaration of urban SPAs and its interest as a tourist resource.

The Organising Committee has prepared the contents of this Congress with great enthusiasm and excitement, in order to be able to live up to previous editions. We hope you enjoy all its contents and that in the next edition we will be able to meet personally in Extremadura.

Olga García García

Regional Minister for Ecological Transition and Sustainability. Junta de Extremadura. Spain.