The Regional Government of Madrid, CLH and GREFA collaborate in Arganda del Rey to protect the lesser kestrel

  • A new building specially designed for the reproduction of this species has been opened in Arganda del Rey.
  • This action forms part of the collaboration agreement that CLH signed with the nature association GREFA in 2012 to improve biodiversity in areas linked to the oil pipelines.

The Regional Deputy Minister of the Environment and Planning of Madrid, Enrique Ruiz Escudero, the mayor of Arganda del Rey, Pablo Rodríguez Sardinero, the Operations General Manager of CLH, Juan Rafael Bonilla, and the General Secretary of GREFA, Fernando Garcés, have today officially opened a tower specially designed and built for breeding colonies of lesser kestrel in the municipality of Arganda del Rey (Madrid). This bird is a small migratory falcon catalogued as an endangered species in the Region of Madrid.

This action aims at recovering the population of this species in a protected area within the Region of Madrid, the Southeast Regional Park. Its development has been possible thanks to the support received from the Regional Ministry of the Environment and Planning of Madrid and the City Council of Arganda del Rey, and to the agreement entered into by CLH and the nature association GREFA three years ago for improving biodiversity in areas linked to the oil pipelines, as is the case of the area where the breeding tower is located.

This action forms part of the “Breeding Tower Network” project that GREFA started ten years ago in collaboration with a notable number of city councils and other official authorities, companies and entities. Thanks to this initiative another eight breeding towers have been built in several municipalities in the Region of Madrid, within protected areas, such as regional parks or Special Protection Areas (SPAs) of the Natura 2000 network.

More than 30% of the 300 or so pairs of lesser kestrel currently reproducing in the Region of Madrid do so in the artificial nesting cavities located in these breeding towers.

The captive breeding programme for the lesser kestrel carried out by GREFA at its facilities located in Majadahonda (Madrid) ensures a supply of at least 40 chicks per year, which will be reintroduced to the wild via the new breeding tower in Arganda. “The intention is that the birds reintroduced from now on will return to this very same breeding tower every spring after overwintering in Africa, breed here and form a new reproductive colony for the species”, explained Fernando Garcés, General Secretary of GREFA.

Flagship species

The lesser kestrel is considered a flagship species for the conservation of steppe-like habitats. It forms colonies when breeding and usually nests in holes and cavities of human constructions located in villages and towns. Every year in spring it comes to the Iberian Peninsula to reproduce and to breed its chicks. It then returns to Africa at the end of the summer and stays there during the winter.

“The collaboration with CLH is an example of how our collaboration with companies that are more environmentally aware is enabling us to boost the work we perform at GREFA in favour of the recovery of endangered species and their habitats”, pointed out Garcés.