This autumn more than 120 new projects will be funded under the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action. Approximately €240 million will go to projects in the field of nature and biodiversity, environment and resource efficiency, and climate action, mobilising additional investments in these areas.
In the framework of the EU LIFE funded project conservationists of Birdlife Hungary (MME), Duna-Ipoly National Park (DINPI), Kiskunság National Park (DINPI), Fertő-Hanság National Park (FHNP), Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden (FÁNK) and the Ministry of Agriculture (AM) will join forces to protect and further strengthen the Hungarian meadow viper population.
The Hungarian meadow viper (Vipera ursinii rakosiensis) is one of Europe’s most threatened venomous snakes. Historically, it was widespread in lowland steppic grasslands of the Carpathian basin. Its range shrank drastically in the 20th century due to intensification of land-use enabled by large-scale drainage projects. The species disappeared from most of its former range and today is restricted to ten small, isolated populations in Kiskunság, Central Hungary, and in Hanság near the north-western Hungarian border.
The main threats to the species are the loss/degradation/fragmentation of viper habitats; increased predator pressure; inappropriate habitat management and problems arising from small population sizes.
The main objective of the LIFE HUNVIPHAB project is the significant improvement of the conservation status of the critically endangered Hungarian meadow viper by:
- restoring the former range of the species, wherever possible;
- increasing the size and extent of populations with improved captive breeding capacities and release techniques;
- introducing a sufficient level of predator control in viper habitats; and
- reducing habitat fragmentation with the establishment of ecological corridors.
The expected results of the project:
- the conservation status of the Hungarian meadow viper will improve by the end of the project;
- the size and complexity of Hungarian meadow viper habitats will increase significantly, enlarging the species range with suitable habitat;
- creation of a grassland corridor between two fragmented viper habitats;
- conversion of plough farmland into grassland;
- increased structural and microhabitat diversity of grasslands;
- protection of the Hungarian meadow viper against predators, predator control;
- release of captive-bred vipers from the Hungarian meadow viper Conservation Centre to recent and former natural habitats, which will potentially increase the known Hungarian population size by at least 50%;