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Last Updated: Monday, 11 June 2007, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Grouse grant aims to boost birds
Black grouse
A fire seems to have benefited the black grouse in the area
A project to halt the decline of black grouse in the Galloway Forest Park has been handed major cash support.

It has received 100,000 - half from the Heritage Lottery Fund - to back a project to improve the birds' habitat.

It is believed that a major fire which swept through the forest park in April has already helped in that aim by creating open ground for the birds.

The black grouse is one of the most threatened bird species in Britain with about 5,000 breeding males nationwide.

That figure has fallen by 22% in 10 years.

The Galloway Forest Park is thought to have 90 breeding males among a total population of 300.

By working together, we can reverse the fate of this rare species
Colin McLean
Heritage Lottery Fund manager

The 100,000 project to boost their numbers is half-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund - the rest comes from the Forestry Commission, Scottish Natural Heritage and the RSPB.

Environment Minister Michael Russell welcomed the funding plan.

"The black grouse is certainly one of Scotland's most iconic and special birds which needs careful protection," he said.

"It is worrying that the mating numbers are declining and we need to take action to turn this around.

"This welcome injection of funding will help restore the birds' natural habitat and will raise the profile of the species through a new viewing area for the public."

HLF's manager for Scotland Colin McLean said wildlife was an important part of the nation's heritage.

"To lose our native birds would be a travesty," he said.

Forest blaze
A large forest fire affected the area earlier this year

"That's why we are very excited about this black grouse initiative as it will provide a best practice model for other regions to follow.

"By working together, we can reverse the fate of this rare species."

The project aims to improve the birds' habitat, increase their numbers and provide a viewing site for the annual springtime mating displays - known as leks.

It appears that a huge fire which raged across much of the park in April has been a blessing in disguise.

It is said to have cleared much of the area needed to create the perfect open ground for the birds.

Similar findings were made in the Highlands recently.

An RSPB survey discovered that a fire at the Corrimony reserve in 1997 may have benefited the black grouse in the area.

Grouse 'benefited' from wild fire
06 Jun 07 |  Highlands and Islands
Experts assess grass blaze damage
18 Apr 07 |  South of Scotland
Forest park grass blaze put out
17 Apr 07 |  South of Scotland
Action call to save black grouse
19 Dec 05 |  Scotland

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