The project supports the protection of nature in densely built-up urban areas. The smart, participative approach of the project and the contribution of citizens to mapping the breeding sites of the Common Swift were essential in the process.
The Common Swift is probably the most famous and fascinating bird species in densely populated urban areas. Summer without their typical calls and flying games, which revive the cityscape and are an important reference to nature for many people, would be unthinkable. In addition, the birds are also spectacular from a physiological and ecological point of view – which bird uses the same nesting site for decades, spends its life constantly in the air apart from the breeding season, even during sleep, and is also extremely useful as an insect eater?
In the course of the citizen science project of the Municipal Department 22 for Environmental Protection the hard-to-find breeding sites of the bird species are recorded with the help of citizens. This information, which is directed at architects, construction companies and everyone else working in the building and renovation sector, is then published online. The birds, which are useful and an enrichment from an aesthetic point of view, are increasingly under pressure through the construction and refurbishment of buildings. This pressure originates not from malice, but mostly from the lack of knowledge of them being and breeding there. Taking their breeding sites into account is in fact not associated with high costs, nor with much effort. Only due to their hidden way of life the birds’ breeding places are destroyed regularly. On the other hand, if taken into account at an appropriate time, the birds can be protected without causing high costs or necessary follow-up measures.
Citizen Science – the contribution of citizens
Special attention is paid to the smart, participative approach of the project. The important thing is the flow of information, in several ways. On the one hand with respect to the protection status of the birds, their way of life and their ecological meaning. On the other hand, with regard to the identification of breeding sites, as the Common Swift breeds in hidden places and the breeding sites cannot be found easily. Often only with the knowledge of residents and neighbors it is possible to identify the breeding sites at all. In numerous excursions in different districts interested citizens were able to learn more about the fascinating way of life of the birds and their protection, about possibilities of participation in the project and about the work of the Vienna Environmental Protection Department.
In addition to the Viennese population, many schools supported the project in 2018, which was deemed so valuable by the Austrian Exchange Service (OeAD) that participating schools were honored in the course of the Citizen Science Award. The students, who got to learn something about nature in the densely built-up city, contributed to the project by identifying 60 nesting sites.
DI Ferdinand Schmeller
Municipal Department 22 – Environmental Protection
This post is also available in: German