The number of black grouse in and around the beautiful Llandegla forestry in North Wales has flourished in recent years and the report on the BBC’s Countryfile [26th March 2017] highlights this finely tuned shooting and conservation partnership, says the Countryside Alliance’s director for Wales, Rachel Evans.
In 1999, the Welsh Black Grouse Recovery Project was set up to deal with the species’ impending extinction in Wales. With the species’ population starting at a historic low in Wales, this project has been a huge conservation success, with numbers reaching 260 in 2016 and with plenty of optimism for further increases from this year’s count in April. Thanks to this dedicated recovery project some 70% of the Welsh black grouse population can now be found in or around Llandegla Forestry, a block of 650 hectares managed by Tilhill Forestry. The forestry is a mixture of sensitive and patchwork planting aimed at improving the woodland edge habitat the black grouse are known to thrive in, and a coalition of partners including local farmers, landowners and the RSPB have all played a part in its success. This partnership, and its approved Government funding, has helped secure a future for this magnificent bird in Wales.
Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison questioned how you would conserve black grouse whilst at the same time allow the continued shooting of red grouse. Martin Clift, an RSPB Conservation Officer and monitor of the black grouse population, said: “They can work together really well, the gamekeeper here is working to establish this moor as a red grouse moor and there’s a voluntary code which the landowners abide by here, not to shoot black grouse”.
The increasing numbers of black grouse on a predominantly red grouse managed moor in Llandegla once again highlights the fact that conservation and shooting can work cohesively together. This longstanding project aimed at targetted habitat management and predator control shows that we can achieve phenomenal results when we work together.
You can join the RSPB on a guided walk through the forest to a purpose built hide for just £10 per person – but booking is essential as spaces are very limited. As well as being able to see the black grouse, there are speakers in the hide which are linked to microphones out on the moor, so you can hear all the sounds of the famous lek as the males try to woo the females this spring. To book your place contact 02920353008 or e-mail Vera.[email protected]