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Capercaillie

Why are we willing to fund this package?

The Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) is one of Scotland's most characteristic bird species. Previously made extinct by centuries of forest destruction and by hunting pressure in the late 1700s, it was reintroduced in the early 1800s. After reintroduction, numbers rose to around 20,000 birds in the 1970s.

By 1999, the population had drastically declined to about 1,000 birds. This decline was linked to a lack of good habitat for feeding during the breeding season, predation of eggs, chicks and adults, fragmentation of forest habitats, collisions with deer fences and cold wet weather reducing breeding success. Action to address some of these factors has been undertaken since 1999. The national survey in 2004 estimated there are around 2,000 birds, suggesting that the decline may have been halted but that the species remains vulnerable.

Action to conserve and increase Capercaillie populations is a high priority. The Capercaillie is a Biodiversity Action Plan priority species and is on the Scottish Biodiversity List. It is also listed in SNH's Species Action Framework and identified for targeted action through the Scottish Forestry Strategy.

What will this package achieve?

This package will help to maintain and increase the Capercaillie population in Scotland.

The habitat supporting the highest densities of the Capercaillie in Scotland is native Caledonian pine forest, and remnants of this type of forest in the eastern and central Highlands provide important conservation areas for the species. However, conifer plantations within FCS Capercaillie Core Areas support the bulk of the population. Capercaillie densities in conifer plantations can be increased if certain management measures are carried out. The most suitable plantations are those dominated by older Scots pine with abundant blaeberry. However, plantations of other conifer species - even Lodgepole pine - can be managed to help Capercaillie.

This package offers options that provide the main habitat needs of Capercaillie, including a varied vegetation structure that provides cover, enough blaeberry ground cover in summer and a lack of disturbance. These conditions must occur throughout a large enough area of woodland (at least 50 ha) to support a viable population of Capercaillie, including at least one "lekking" site.

What you can do.

You should choose which of the following Options will help deliver the outcome you have selected.

We suggest the following Options may all be appropriate.

These Options will only help achieve the desired outcome in specific circumstances. If you choose any of these, the application system will ask you to explain how you see this Option helping to achieve the outcome. You can select as many, or as few, Options as you think you will need. You must judge which Options will most effectively deliver the desired outcomes taking account of your circumstances

These Options will help to achieve the desired outcome in specific circumstances:

Other support available under the SRDP

There are other Options available under the RDC that can help you manage Capercaillie. These Options are available under the Land Managers' Options scheme and they can complement and support your proposal. They include:

  • Skills development

Further Information

The Capercaillie Biodiversity Action Plan website provides access to a series of sheets relevant to capercaillie management .

The Forestry Commission Scotland website provides a map showing capercaillie distribution and also provides advice on their management.