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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 January 2008, 01:05 GMT
Grouse decline 'can be reversed'
Black grouse (Picture by RSPB Images)
Black grouse numbers have been falling as their habitats disappear
A huge decline in the black grouse population can be reversed, experts involved in a major conservation project believe.

Numbers of the endangered bird had plummeted from 25,000 pairs in 1991 to only 5,000 pairs at the last count.

But a concerted effort to protect the iconic species has led to an upturn in its fortunes at two Highland sites.

It is hoped similar work in other areas will allow more of the game birds to feed, display and roost in safety.

The projects at the Corrimony reserve, near Cannich, and Glenmore Forest close to Aviemore, were undertaken by the Scottish Forest Alliance (SFA).

Black grouse are one of our most threatened species
Andrew Fairbairn
Woodland Trust Scotland

The body brings together RSPB Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, the Woodland Trust Scotland and BP.

It said the numbers of black grouse at Corrimony increased from 35 to 57 between 2002 and 2007, while at Glenmore Forest the population doubled, with a recent count spotting 28 birds in the area.

SFA planted thousands of native trees, restored wetlands and reduced the number of deer to create the perfect habitat for the black grouse.

Small pockets

Andrew Fairbairn, development manager of the Woodland Trust Scotland, said: "Black grouse are one of our most threatened species - on the UK red list of conservation species due to their massive decline in range.

"These increases [at Corrimony and Glenmore] are a real measure of the additional benefits to biodiversity and wildlife that the SFA project is bringing.

"We hope that this success will be mirrored at all SFA sites in the coming years, and play a major part in helping the recovery of this species."

The vast majority of black grouse are found in remote Highland areas, but with small pockets remaining in Dumfries and Galloway and the northern Pennines of England and Wales.

Grouse grant aims to boost birds
11 Jun 07 |  South of Scotland
Grouse 'benefited' from wild fire
06 Jun 07 |  Highlands and Islands
Farmers take black grouse course
17 Mar 07 |  Highlands and Islands
Action call to save black grouse
19 Dec 05 |  Scotland

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