At La Brenne we worked closely with the National Park staff and LPO (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux) representatives, the French equivalent of RSPB. The economy is still very much connected to this diverse
Nature Reserve, and La Brenne maintains its cultural heritage by continuing fish farming, shooting of Red and Roe deer, Wild boar, and wildfowl. It was within this vast area of wetland habitat we carried out habitat management to provide suitable habitat for the breeding of whiskered terns. We worked together (with reserve staff and a local group) removing Water Lily rhizomes from the sticky clay area around a lake, where
they were encroaching too much on dragonfly habitat (this by no means an easy feat!). The Water Lilies would be re-planted later that year by LPO staff alongside other lakes in the area to create additional habitat for the terns. The conflicts and the management of the reserve were apparent all around; coypu traps, exterminated musk rats, and wild boar culling. Additionally invasive catfish are eradicated annually from the fish ponds, as they compete with the stocks of carp being farmed for the European Market. www.parc-naturel-brenne.fr/english
At this wetland reserve we worked alongside a group of permanent French volunteers. Willow encroaching on reed-bed habitat was removed but was not wasted. A temporary bird hide was constructed by our group from some of the removed willow so that visitors could still enjoy the many birds that came to the reserve whilst a more permanent hide was constructed over the coming seasons. The willow was bound together and
woven into large screens creating a ‘fortress’ from our combined efforts!
The European Conservation Action Network was established in 2007 by The Kingcombe Trust, a charity based at The Kingcombe Centre in west Dorset, dedicated to conservation and environmental education (Reg. Charity no. 1054758), in association with the Dorset branch of Butterfly Conservation. The project is funded through the Leonardo da Vinci section of the European Union Lifelong Learning Programme and has partners in France, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland. Further information can be obtained from www.kingcombecentre.org.uk