Development of Cross-border Ecological Network for the Species Dependent on Broad-leaved Veteran Trees

The Lithuanian – Latvian ecological network plan of 1:100 000 scale will be created using O. eremita as an umbrella species. It will be done through defining of the areas in which it is necessary to ensure the continued functioning of ecological processes and the viability of species populations within a wider landscape of semi-natural and managed lands.

Preparatory work for establishing ecological network between Kaunas oak forest, Dūkštos oak forest and the slope of Neris river by Verkiai

One of the main tasks of the project is creation of ecological network between three major sites for conservation of hermit beetle in Lithuania: Kaunas oak forest (LTKAU0020), Dūkštos oak forest (LTVIN0007) and the slope of Neris river by Verkiai (LTVIN0012). As a result of this action elements of ecological network will be pre-selected: core areas, where long term existence of Hermit beetle is possible and stepping stones – small areas in the landscape suitable for temporal existence of species. The distance between separate network areas will be approximately 1 – 2 km. The total distance of the network will be 100 – 130 km.

Preparation of management plans and other documentation for Kaunas oak forest (LTKAU0020), Dukstos oak forest (LTVIN0007) and the slope of Neris river by Verkiai (LTVIN0012)

The goal of this action is to prepare necessary documentation for the long term management of the main core areas of the project. This action has two sub-actions: Preparation of management plans for Kaunas oak forest (LTKAU0020) and the slope of Neris river by Verkiai (LTVIN0012), and preparing of guidelines for management of veteran trees and deadwood.

Preparing a methodology for surveying and headstarting of the Hermit beetle

The goal of the action is to prepare for actions in the C part and transferability of the project results. Thus two demonstrational methodologies will be developed. The action has two sub-actions: Preparing a methodology for reintroduction of the Hermit beetle, and Development of smart pheromone traps for hermit beetle.

Management and restoration of veteran and other valuable large dimension trees

In the project ecological network area, 300 – 400 veteran and other biologically valuable large dimension trees will be restored and managed by professional arborists. Management will take place inside known hermit beetle habitat sites as well as outside those sites – creating ecological corridors of stepping stones. Most hermit beetle habitats in Lithuania are relatively small areas with high density veteran trees in it. Long term conservation of such habitats depends on two factors: longevity of veteran trees and suitable age structure of remaining trees to replenish veteran trees in the future.

This action will ensure good conditions of veteran trees in the Hermit beetle habitats and availability of veteran trees and other valuable large dimension trees in the landscape between the hermit beetle habitats.

Creating of dispersal corridors for the Hermit beetles and control of invasive species inside the core zones

Significant part of hermit beetle populations are in Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines (9180*). Although such habitat require no management, but they often are fragmented and have complex boundaries. Often trees suitable for saproxylic species in the same habitat are isolated by dense and shading interposing forest stands, which act as barriers. To open possibilities for migration within habitat, corridors in intersecting forest stand will be opened in the core zones of ecological network. In some areas this will significantly improve habitat quality for hermit beetle and other saproxylic and thermophile species.

Eradication of alien trees from natural habitats in Hermit beetle sites will improve microclimatic conditions for thermophilic species in the short term and will help to preserve habitats in the long term. It will serve as demonstrational activity and topic to raise public awareness on the problem of invasive species as well.

Restoring a viable population of the Hermit beetles

A viable metapopulation of O. eremita restored in its historic habitat the slope of Neris river by Verkiai (LTVIN0012). Oak forest in the slope of Neris river by Verkiai was designated as Natura2000 area for O.eremita. However, even though habitat management measures favourable for O.eremita were carried out (Nature management plan 2007 – 2017), since 2005 the species was not found there anymore. Therefore this site could be used as a demonstrational site for reintroduction of the hermit beetle.

Monitoring & Evaluation of project actions

Monitoring and evaluation of project actions will be performed by the project team. Lists of project actions as well as list of possible outcomes will be created and evaluated on regular basis. The lists will be published as online documents (e.g. Google spreadsheets or Google forms) and all personnel working with particular tasks will submit appropriate information to it. Some location related actions will be monitored using online map platforms for better planning of resources. In parallel annual monitoring of O. eremita will take place to evaluate if the project actions are providing expected conservation results.

Dissemination and Communication

A broad range of activities is foreseen to reach attention, inform and change attitudes of the general public. Different age and interest groups will be targeted with the activities, which will range from installing long term infrastructure, such as educational trail and informational boards to educating the youngest audience in the zoo. All dissemination material will bear the LIFE and Natura 2000 logos.

The action has two sub-actions: Educational trail in Kaunas oak forest and Informational boards in areas of the ecological network, and Development of the Dissemination Pack (including website, brochures, Layman’s Report, project video, events).

Networking and knowledge exchange

In the beginning of the project the project team will be acquiring knowledge from the other experts, gathering experience and networking with the other projects. Meetings, workshop and study tours will be organised for this purpose.

The action has four sub-actions: Project kick-off meeting, Workshop on habitat management, Study tours, Networking with the other projects.

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