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16 December, 2014

Call for concerted effort in black grouse conservation

A new report calls for greater and more sustained co-operative action to help save threatened black grouse populations in the south of Scotland.

Black grouse face continued pressures across the region. A main concern is the ability of the bird to move within its preferred habitat and the fact this limits its’ ability to meet and mate. This places greater stress on the population as a whole.

The report confirms that black grouse in southern Scotland are in long-term decline. Scientists predict further reductions in numbers, coupled with a contraction in the species’ range unless strategic action is taken.

The report concluded that black grouse survive where they have large patches of moorland to live in. The report lays the foundations for a ‘landscape-scale approach’ which will focus on protecting known ‘core’ populations before increasing the population numbers and connections to other patches on the landscape.

The information is contained within Commissioned Report 741 ‘Black grouse conservation in southern Scotland’ the output from a joint SNH/ Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) / Southern Uplands Partnership (SUP) research project.

Sue Haysom, the project manager within Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), said: “The report provides a key foundation for strategic action and identifies the next steps to save black grouse in the south of Scotland.

“Black grouse, like many species, face a range of pressures and need our help. This report sets us on a firm foundation and identifies how our limited resources could be used to best effect.

“The next steps are for everyone who cares about black grouse to work together to develop and implement a strategic conservation plan which addresses the issues this species faces in the south of Scotland. These include habitat loss or deterioration, disturbance, and climate change.”

Pip Tabor, project manager with the Southern Uplands Partnership, said: “The Southern Uplands Partnership is really pleased that this study has confirmed the need for a landscape scale approach to black grouse conservation. We sincerely hope that funds will now be found to deliver the necessary actions so that we can keep this charismatic species thriving in the Southern Uplands.”

Dr Phil Warren, senior scientist at the GWCT, said: “Black grouse in southern Scotland have severely declined and now only occupy a fraction of their formerly occupied range. Here, urgent conservation action is required to prevent further decline and to stabilise numbers. This project provides an important evidence base and we look forward to working and engaging with land managers and other partners to develop and implement a landscape scale plan to conserve black grouse here.”

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