Huge boost for the endangered Oriental Stork

Posted on 16 December 2021

Russia adopts new national strategy to conserve the species
The Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Russia, Alexander Kozlov, has signed a decree adopting the new approach to Oriental stork conservation in Russia.

Based on data from the Oriental stork census that was carried out in 2018-19 in the Amur river basin by specialists of the Russian Working Group on the Oriental Stork with the support of WWF Russia, the goals of the new strategy include that by 2030:
  • the population number amounts to at least 1000 breeding pairs;
  • the area of ​​wetland Protected Areas suitable for storks has increased by 2,500 km² (15%) to a total of 20,000 km²; and
  • the network of protected areas contains at least 50% of Oriental stork nests.
The Strategy was elaborated by the efforts of ornithologists from FGBU Zapovednoye Priamurye, the Bastak Nature Reserve, specialists of WWF Russia Amur branch, NGO Amur Socio-Ecological Union, scientists from the Biological and Soil Institute, the Pacific Institute of Geography and the Institute of Water and Environmental Problems of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, employees of the Information and Analytical Center for Protected Areas (Roszapovedcenter) of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia.

The new strategy builds on the successes of the past twenty years, inclduing protection of more than 800,000 hectares of stork habitats ​, artificial supports for nests, fire-prevention treatment for trees with nests, and mass public awareness campaigns.

In particular, the “Stork Nest Keepers” programme, which was initiated by WWF-Russia in 2004, has played a huge role in increasing numbers of the rare species. In September-November each year, 150-165 trees and artificial supports with nests are protected and saved from seasonal grass fires. WWF has also partnered with the Federal Grid Company to install 4,300 special devices to scare birds from sitting and nesting in dangerous places, including power transmission poles. Moreover, many special platforms have been installed in places that are safe both for electriciy wires and storks - 19 of them are already inhabited by storks.

“With a sense of accomplishment, I can say that all the goals that we set at the end of the last century have been achieved," said Yury Darman, Ph.D., Honored Ecologist of Russia. "The number of storks has doubled, and thanks to the installation of tripods for nests and the implementation of recommendations for the protection of birds on power lines, we've created conditions for a stable population."

In 2018, at least 727 inhabited Oriental stork nests were registered in Russia - twice as many as during the last survey in 1999. According to Birdlife International, the global population of the Oriental stork at the end of the 20th century was estimated at 2,500 adult birds. But by 2018, collective conservation efforts had seen this population rise to around 6,000, including at least 4,500 in Russia.
Oriental stork
© Igor Ishchenko / WWF-Russia

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Oriental Stork