Last week, between 18-20th February 2014, the LIFE+ Project was host to an international meeting dedicated to the conservation of the Red-breasted Goose. The town of Kavarna was chosen to host the first AEWA Red-breasted Goose International Working Group meeting. The International Working Group includes representatives of state authorities of the five key countries for the species – Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria - and experts and conservationists from those countries. The work of the IWG is supported by international conservation and experts organizations including BirdLife International, FACE (European hunters’ federation), Wetlands International and others.

The IWG elected Chair of the group Dr. Volodymyr Domashlinets from the Ministry of Environment of Ukraine. The participants updated each other on the ongoing conservation and research activities in the range countries. Key knowledge on the migration stop-over sites and threats at those sites were presented resulting from active remote tracking work.

Main focus of the work of the IWG is the implementation of the Species Action Plan therefore priority actions were discussed. What comes out of the discussion is that the issue with poaching and the disturbance associated with hunting is a common problem across the range. However, Bulgaria is the only country that does not have any regulation of the hunting in the key sites for the species and the lack of buffer non-hunting zone is kind of “endemic” to Bulgaria. The IWG stressed on the need of establishing hunting free zones which will allow the Red-breasted Goose to have secure resting and refueling stations along the migratory route.

The countries reconfirmed commitment to common monitoring actions and will be looking into options to set new common projects to increase cooperation between countries. One of the major points which the delegates stressed upon was the need of implementing a Strategic Impact Assessment for any development in the key areas of the species as a preventive measure. The need of better site protection enforcement and development and implementation of management plans for key sites was considered crucial by the IWG delegates. The IWG has launched a new website hosted by the AEWA Secretariat in Bonn which will serve as a media for the members and interested parties.

On the last day of the Meeting the participants visited the key site for the species in Bulgaria and one of the LIFE+ Project sites – Durankulak Lake SPA where they watched the morning take off of the last wintering geese flocks.