RTVE presents the 1st ‘El Escarabajo Verde’ Awards
May 20, 2022
LIFE LYNXCONNECT awarded in the category ‘Public or private organisation for its work for the conservation of the environment. An award for the strategies and efforts of 20 years of LIFE NATURE projects to prevent the extinction of the Iberian Lynx.
The joint development of management and conservation strategies between the Administration, institutions, private companies, representatives of the hunting sector, NGOs and landowners and managers, supported by funding from the European Union, has served to bring the most endangered feline species in the world, the Iberian Lynx, out of the critical danger of extinction in which it found itself and to establish joint, exportable and demonstrative ways of working that guarantee future management.
In 2001, there were less than 100 lynxes left in two populations located in the Doñana and Andújar-Cardeña natural parks, where a large part of the territory is privately owned.
The critical situation required the development of a strong conservation and recovery programme that could be implemented thanks to joint work strategies involving the governments of Spain and Portugal together with the autonomous governments of Andalusia, Extremadura, Castile-La Mancha and Murcia, supported by LIFE NATURE funds.
In 2001, the Junta de Andalucía launched the Action Programme for the Conservation of the Iberian Lynx, which was completed in 2002 with the approval of the Life Project ‘Recovery of the Iberian Lynx populations in Andalusia. LIFE02NAT/E/8609’ (2002-2006), which was a very important milestone in the conservation of the species. The main objective of these projects was to stabilise the Iberian lynx populations in Andalusia, ensuring the long-term viability of the only two existing populations isolated from each other: Doñana and Sierra Morena. In 2006, a new project “Conservation and reintroduction of the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) in Andalusia” (2006-2011) was approved, which gave a qualitative boost to conservation by including two new actions: the reintroduction of lynx in some of their historical distribution areas in Andalusia and the genetic reinforcement of the Doñana population. 2011 saw the start of Life+IBERLINCE: Recovery of the historical distribution of the Iberian Lynx in Spain and Portugal (2011-2019), which took a further leap forward in the conservation of the species, through the reintroduction in areas of its historical distribution in Portugal, Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha and Andalusia.
These three projects received the “best of the best” award for the best project implemented within the EU.
The fourth LIFE project, approved by the European Commission for the conservation of the Iberian lynx, is the current LIFE LYNXCONNECT ‘Creation of a genetically and demographically functional Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) metapopulation (2020-2025), which today rewards 20 years of strategies and efforts to prevent the extinction of the species.
Following the achievements of the previous LIFE IBERLINCE project ‘Recovery of the historical distribution of the Iberian lynx in Spain and Portugal (2011-2018), focused on the recovery of the historical distribution of the species in the Iberian Peninsula and its reintroduction in Portugal, Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha, in addition to the consolidation of the first Iberian lynx reintroductions carried out in Andalusia in previous LIFE projects, LIFE LYNXCONNECT, has as its main challenge to make the Iberian lynx population self-sustainable and genetically viable in the long term. This will be achieved by connecting the six existing core sites and creating two new core sites. This will help to reduce the risk of extinction of this species.
The main objective of the LIFE NATURE Iberian Lynx projects has been to prevent the extinction of the species. In 2015, the objective of lowering its threat category from “critically endangered” to “endangered” was achieved. Today, 20 years later and having achieved this objective, more than 1,200 specimens roam the Iberian Peninsula.
In the development of these projects, all the actors in society, public and private, necessary to reduce the different threats affecting the species have been involved. It has been essential to count on the participation of landowners and hunting societies. Reintroductions and habitat improvements included in the collaboration agreements between public and private agents have been the main tools used. In these agreements, landowners and managers have undertaken to protect the lynx and its habitat, making land use compatible with the requirements of the species, to monitor the territory so that it is free of threats, and to show how this type of management brings added value to the territory.