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Meet the volunteer helping to save endangered birds in France's Alsace region

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By Cyril Fourneris
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Meet the volunteer helping to save endangered birds in France's Alsace region
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In the wetlands along the Rhine, the 1990s saw a huge decline in many species due to agricultural lands changing, canalisation of the Rhine and trees being chopped down. Bird habitats were damaged in a way that meant the birds could no longer survive there.

But now, certain bird populations have been given a helping hand to boost their numbers.

Saved by volunteers

Dominique Bersuder is a volunteer and the Bird Protection League (LPO) and he has been passionate about nature since he was a child.

After work, he spends entire evenings fighting the so-called "silence of the birds" by putting up nesting boxes on trees in the French region of Alsace.

The Owl of Athena

He is part of a network of volunteers united to save the owl of Athena. This animal is native to the Mediterranean and it settled there during the Middle Ages. However, by the 1990s it had almost entirely disappeared.

Dominique tells us that the owl of Athena is a good example of a species that almost disappeared but was given "a new lease of life thanks to volunteers who have taken action and enabled this species to grow again and to be in a positive position".

Insect decline and food

He explains that it's a species that consumes a lot of insects in summer, but according to him, France has lost nearly 80% of its insect population in the last 30 years. "Insects which many birds, including the owl of Athena, feed on", he adds.

Dominique attributes a lot of the bird population decline to the destruction of orchards. He tells us that most of the peri-urban orchards and the countryside orchards have now disappeared in the Alsace region.

Many old trees have disappeared, especially fruit trees which were rich in natural cavities and allowed the owl of Athena to reproduce
Dominique Bersuder
Volunteer and the Bird Protection League (LPO)

With the help of the Ramsar Biodiversity project, the LPO has been able to help several species in the region's wetlands.

Dominque tells us that "it's mainly the installation of nesting boxes that has enabled the owl population to recover".

The advantage of these boxes is that they very easily replace the natural cavities that the birds no longer have.