Black grouse: conservation review work 2009-2012

Between 2009-2012, the RSPB, alongside Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), supported two black grouse review projects - the updated Calladine review and the Conservation Review Project.

 Black grouse Tetrao tetrix, adult male on lek. Corrimony RSPB reserve. Scotland.

Overview

Across the UK, black grouse populations have undergone a long-term decline throughout their range. Recent estimates between 1995-1996 and 2005 highlight a significant drop of displaying males, from 4,719 to 3,344 within Scotland.
 
Black grouse are red listed as a species of high conservation concern, listed on Annex 2B of the EU Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) and were a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) species and a priority under the Species Action Framework. 
 
Through the black grouse Scottish Biodiversity Action Plan (SBAP), we are committed to achieving recovery (3,250 lekking males) and range expansion targets (230 occupied 10 km2 squares) by 2030.
 
Over the past decade, the RSPB, alongside other partners, have invested significant effort into black grouse research, monitoring and conservation management. However, the breadth and effectiveness of this work is largely unknown on a national level. To help inform stakeholder positions, two separate review projects were set up. 

Objectives

  • Project 1 - The updated Calladine review: To summarise the level of supporting evidence for black grouse management prescriptions, as identified by conservation staff, from published literature and current knowledge. This work is an update of the original Calladine review, published in 2002.
  • Project 2 - The conservation review project: To appraise the extent of black grouse monitoring, agri-environment support and dedicated conservation work, across Scotland. 

Key Dates

To complete the above objectives, the black grouse project officer gathered all available information on black grouse:

  • Literature
  • Monitoring
  • Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) spend
  • Conservation work.

Recommendations were provided to the recently reinvigorated black grouse SBAP group.

Progress

Please refer to the completed reports for a full summary. Some of the major findings are summarised below:
 
  • A range of management prescriptions are currently advocated for black grouse conservation. However, the level of supporting evidence for each of these varies.
  • Within Scotland, an estimated 50 per cent of the 1991 Breeding Bird Atlas range has been monitored between 2001-11, with an aggregated number of 4,713 males recorded by the most recent surveys.
  • Under SRDP, more than £100 million has been committed through Rural Priority options of potential black grouse benefit, with more than £8 million of this from the black grouse package.
  • Within Scotland, black grouse conservation has been delivered through five specialist recovery projects between 2007-2012, alongside management on at least 12 nature reserves and 22 forests on the national estate. These figures, however, are probably an underestimate on the extent of black grouse management in Scotland.

Planned Work

Following the recommendations of the conservation review project, the RSPB, SNH, FCS and GWCT are supporting the delivery of three actions:
  • Considering the feasibility of a national monitoring scheme.
  • Improving future resource targeting.
  • Producing a research strategy for the next five years.

Download

RSPB report to Forestry Commission Scotland, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage. Date: 14 November 2013. PDF, 2.01Mb

Black grouse conservation review: Monitoring in Scotland

RSPB report to Forestry Commission Scotland, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage. Date: 14 November 2013.  PDF, 2.86Mb

Black grouse conservation review: Scotland Rural Development Programme spend

RSPB report to Forestry Commission Scotland, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage. Date: 14 November 2013. PDF, 1.22Mb

Black grouse conservation review: Conservation effort in Scotland

Contacts

Coast on a stormy day

Chris Bailey

Advisory Manager, Scotland

chris.bailey@rspb.org.uk
Tagged with: Country: Scotland Habitat: Upland Species: Black grouse Project status: Completed Project types: Advocacy Project types: Species protection