Grouse Recovery Project
The Welsh Black Grouse Recovery Project started in June 1999 to stop
the serious decline of black grouse in Wales, which if left unchecked
could have led to their extinction in 10-15 years. The Project integrates
a comprehensive suite of habitat prescriptions, targeted to six key areas
in north Wales. In the long term, the Project aims to increase the range
and numbers of black grouse in Wales. In addition, the Project aims to
raise the profile of black grouse in Wales and awareness of how management
measures can reverse the decline. During 1999-2001, the Project was funded
by the European Union (European Agriculture Guidance and Guarantee Fund),
the National Assembly for Wales (Rural Development Grant), the RSPB, Countryside
Council for Wales and Forest Enterprise Cymru. During 2003-2006 the project
was boosted by similar funding plus the Hiraethog Project and since then
has relied on funding from Countryside Council for Wales, Snowdonia National
Park (RTE), Welsh Assembly Government, The RSPB, Heather and Hillforts
project (Denbighshire) and Forestry Commission Wales.
Using money from the European Union and the National Assembly for Wales,
in conjunction with agri-environment schemes and the Woodland Grant Scheme,
the Project helped to restore the diversity of mixed land use of moor
edge, rough grazing and woodland. Training days, publications, seminars
and newsletters have been used to promote the needs of black grouse to
landowners, foresters, farmers and grant bodies.
Fact and Figures
Using the Welsh Black Grouse Survey in 1997, the Project identified six
key areas, based mainly on the presence of suitable habitat and known
distribution of male black grouse in mid and north Wales. These became
the project core area and comprised 80% of the remaining black grouse
population in Wales.
Grouse distribution in Wales
Grouse distribution in Wales
(BTO/IWC 1968-1972 Breedng Bird Atlas)
Breeding Bird Atlas)
Grouse distribution in Wales 2002 Black
Grouse distribution in Wales 2005
Maps show black grouse
distribution in Wales based on presence of lekking males within 10km squares
Using management recommendations from existing research, the Project
targeted the land within a 1.5km radius around each of 18 focal leks
that contained the greatest number of males at the start of the project.
These focal leks are situated within forestry or on open moorland and
semi-improved grassland and cover 11,300 ha of upland habitats. Habitat
management had three aims
· To create patches of young moor vegetation for chick and adult
· To make wet areas accessible to feeding chicks,
· By creating this habitat patchiness, reduce the hunting success
At the same time, some focal lek areas received predator control by
other organisations and private landowners. Click here
to find out how we applied management prescriptions to enhance the habitats
within this project area. (Word 225kb).
The population of black grouse increased by almost 90% during the first
phase of the Wales Black Grouse Recovery Project.
Searches of all leks within the black grouse areas were undertaken
in each year of the project except in 2001. A full census of lekking
males in 2002, using the same method as earlier censuses, was used to
measure the population size and range and to assess whether targeted
habitat management had been beneficial, the same process was again undertaken
Across the whole of Wales, the 2002 census estimated that there were
243 lekking males, 85% more than in 1997 (131 males) and only 8% fewer
than in 1986 (264 males). The increase was restricted to areas where
advice was given and management work was undertaken. The 2005 all
Wales census estimated that there were 211 lekking males, 61%
more than in 1997 but a 13% decrease since the 2002 census. The numbers
on key areas have fluctuated since 2005, possibly reflecting changes
in the intensity of habitat management that could be delivered. However,
elsewhere, the numbers of black grouse have continued to fall and the
range has contracted further, so there is still a long way to go before
the black grouse population in Wales is sustainable.
How can the Project help?
The Project is currently working closely with CCW and Forestry Commission
Wales (Cymru), to develop agri-environment, SSSI and woodland management
schemes. Landowners and managers with estates/farms that lie adjacent
to or within the current range of black grouse can contact the project
officer who cant hen offer a free site assessment, advise on how best
to manage the land for black grouse and who to approach for the correct
grants. The Project also runs training and information days and continues
to monitor the fortunes of black grouse in Wales.
If you would like to help or would like a site visit, contact the Black
How you can help
black grouse on your land/Sut allwch chi helpu’r ruglar ddu ar
eich tir is a bilingual advice leaflet for landowners, farmers and
foresters published by RSPB Cymru, with the support of the Welsh Biodiversity
Action Plan Black Grouse Steering Group.