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Last Updated: Monday, 2 June, 2003, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Markings help moor recovery
Shapes were cut out of the heather
Environmentalists have spent 100,000 cutting strips of heather
Science fiction lovers could be forgiven for thinking the aliens have landed in Denbighshire.

The strange circles and symbols cut out from the heather moorland on Moel Famau are not the work of aliens but the creation of human hands.

Environmentalists have spent 100,000 cutting strips of heather to improve the crop and benefit the wildlife living on the moor.

Black grouse, which have seen a decline in their population in recent years, gather in the area.

Small populations of the black grouse exist on Moel Famau and it is expected that successful management of the site will result in an increase in their numbers.

Black Grouse
The Black Grouse are rare birds

Cutting back the heather should ensure it grows thicker and more vigorously.

Denbighshire councillor Gwyneth Kensler said the work was important.

"As this form of habitat management is carried out every year, the countryside wardens need to map the areas of cuts," she said.

Moel Famau is managed by Denbighshire Countryside Service and falls within the boundaries of the Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

There has been a dramatic decline in the numbers of black grouse in Wales throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

At one point the number of males dropped to below 140 but now there are around 180 pairs estimated to be in Wales.

Between 1990 and 1996 the birds came close to extinction when their numbers dropped by 75%.

Black grouse live on moorland and in forestry and native woodlands - mostly in upland areas.

As well as Wales, their habitat is also northern Scotland.

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