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Returning white-tailed eagles breed as successfully in landscapes under intensive forestry regimes as in protected areas

Authors


  • Editor: Darren Evans

    Associate Editor: Jaime Ramos

Abstract

Given the unprecedented biodiversity crisis and scarcity of conservation resources, each single conservation effort must be allocated cost-effectively. Therefore, there is a growing need to evaluate the effectiveness of such efforts, particularly in the case of large and charismatic predators that have attracted a large share of species conservation funding. In Finland, conservation interventions aimed at protecting nest sites of the white-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla were initiated based on general concerns of increasing disturbance posed by human encroachment and forestry practices. We evaluated the current effectiveness of this conservation program. We found that neither nest occupancy nor breeding success of white-tailed eagles were affected by the protection status of the land in which the nest was located (protected areas or unprotected land), or by the size of the area under protection. In addition, the type of forest management at the nest site or the presence and vicinity of anthropogenic infrastructures (roads and buildings) did not have any apparent effect on nesting eagles. Our results are encouraging, as they show that the white-tailed eagle breeds successfully in landscapes under intensive forestry, and thus the future of the species appears not to be threatened by forest management. Our results furthermore allow updating the allocation of resources for nature conservation in Finland, potentially by prioritizing more cost-effective conservation programs on other species and ecosystems.

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