£30,000 boost for Galloway Forest black grouse breeding site

Forestry and Land Scotland’s efforts to help the black grouse population in Galloway Forest Park have received a £30,000 boost from NatureScot’s Nature Restoration Fund.

The award will fund the removal of non-native conifers from 35ha of land at a site near Loch Bradan in Galloway Forest Park, which will help keep the area open and maintain it as a lekking site – one of the largest in the region. and the south of Scotland as a whole.

The area where the work will be carried out is part of a much larger housing network. Removing trees and making the area more open will allow males and females to fly between leks to provide connectivity for lekking as well as dispersal.

Kim Kirkbride, FLS Environment Forester in the region, said;

“There has been a significant population loss over the last 15 years but Dumfries & Galloway, and in particular Galloway Forest Park, are fortunate to support some of the remaining black grouse populations in southern Scotland. .
“However, landscape-scale habitat restoration and enhancement is essential to help the survival of this species.
“The area around Loch Braden has been a successful lek for at least 10 years. By restoring the habitat to optimal conditions for the black grouse, we hope to see it grow stronger in the years to come.
“We very much appreciate the funding from NatureScot which allowed us to carry out this important restoration work.”

The area where habitat restoration will take place is a trial management project area, which since 2011 has been monitored as part of a landscape-scale partnership project with the RSPB.

Monitoring will continue to take place annually to measure the success of the removal of non-native regeneration.

NatureScot’s Chief Biodiversity Officer, Dr Katherine Leys, said:

“The black grouse is an iconic Scottish species, but habitat loss and overgrazing have led to a long-term population decline. We are happy to support the work that Forestry and Land Scotland are doing to improve black grouse habitat to help in their recovery.
“Biodiversity loss and climate change are major threats to our natural world, but thanks to the Nature Restoration Fund, we can start to tackle these challenges – putting Scotland’s lands and seas back on the path to recovery and helping Scotland’s wildlife thrive.”

The Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund is now seeking expressions of interest from small and medium-sized projects to start work this year, with grants of up to £250,000 available. For more information and to apply, see the NatureScot website.