Why is rehabilitating the little bustard populations in the St-Chaptes plain necessary?

The little bustard is settled in the Mediterranean region. The species widely winters in the Crau plain (Bouches-du-Rhône, Costières du Gard and the Vidourle plain), where low crops (plough, seedbed, paths, market gardening, grubbed up vine) coexist with meadow shelters (alfalfa stands, hayfields).

These preferred shelters provide at the same time protection and high food supplies (mainly insects) for the females, while the males, who must remain in the females’ sight, select shelters with low vegetation levels. These contrasting requirements are even more visible in the plains farmed using different mosaic crop rotations.

The disappearance of the multicrop-livestock farming system caused the fall of the little bustard’s headcount, whose sedentary populations are shrinking. Within our territory, especially in St-Chaptes plain, the species’ headcount is declining: 17 singing males in 2012, 8 in 2016, 6 in 2020.

Since the 1970’s, the St-Chaptes plain hosts what has become the most northern population in the Gard, following the disappearance of the Barjac population and of the Gard Causses, which represents a challenge as great as the species is involved in the connectivity of rapidly shrinking Mediterranean populations.

It is therefore vital for the little bustard to rehabilitate these habitats.

What does the farmers’ support imply?

  • A preliminary study shall be carried out in order to better define the areas preferred by the species in order to adapt the protective and management measures which shall be implemented later on.
  • The volunteer farmers and breeders shall take part in rehabilitating the habitats suitable for the little bustard: grazing redistribution upon 15 ha brownfields meant to be cut, creating meadows with flowery species and adapted management practices, developing grass-growing in viticulture.

The project throughout time

  1. Step 01 - 2022

    Preliminary study

  2. Step 02 - From 2023 to 202

    Meadow rehabilitation and grazing expansion

  3. Step 03 - From 2023 to 2025

    Setting up suitable shelters