The project’s funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, LEADER, Scottish Landfill Communities Fund, the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Forestry, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Cairngorms National Park Authority. Together these organisations have secured the project's total budget of £517,700 to support the project through its Development Phase which ends in March 2020. An application will then be submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund seeking further funding to deliver the project’s plans from 2020 to 2023.
European LIFE funding and a Scottish Forestry funded programme significantly improved conditions for capercaillie from the late 1990s to 2006. It’s generally accepted that without this funding capercaillie may well have gone extinct in the UK. More recently the Cairngorms Capercaillie Framework was produced by a number of organisations in 2015. The Framework set out a series of recommendations to help secure the long-term future of capercaillie in the UK. The Cairngorms Capercaillie Project was developed in response, specifically to find ways to help address disturbance where research shows this reduces the amount of living space available for capercaillie. The Cairngorms Capercaillie Project marks the first time funding has been secured to try and address the issue of disturbance.
Introducing new birds or translocating existing populations in the UK are both valid options to help secure the long-term future of capercaillie in the UK but only if we can be confident that the original reasons for decline won’t simply wipe the birds out again. Whilst we can’t be sure this won’t happen it would currently be irresponsible to introduce more birds to the UK.
The village was chosen due to the local capercaillie population, the popularity of the village with visitors and the diversity of residents.
The presence of capercaillie around Carrbridge has been public knowledge for many years. Protecting the birds from disturbance particularly during lek season remains a challenge as a minority of bird watchers continue to visit known lek sites around the village. Capercaillie are a protected species making it illegal to intentionally or recklessly disturb the birds during lek season. The Carrbridge Capercaillie Community Ranger, Emma, is therefore maintaining a presence in the capercaillie sensitive woods around the village, advising the people she meets and reporting any illegal activity.
Capercaillie are protected under UK and European law. This means its an offence to knowingly disturb capercaillie whilst they're;
- nest building
- at or near a nest with eggs or young
It's also an offence to;
- disturb the dependent young of a capercaillie
- obstruct or prevent a capercaillie from using its nest
- damage, destroy or interfere with a capercaillie nest while it's in use or being built
- kill, injure or take a capercaillie
- take or destroy the eggs of a capercaillie
A minority of bird watchers continue to visit known lek sites and therefore risk breaking the law. The Carrbridge Capercaillie Community Ranger, Emma, maintains a presence in the woods around Carrbridge, advising the people she meets and reporting any illegal activity.
The Cairngorms Capercaillie Project wants to enable more people to get involved in capercaillie conservation. As such the project aims to be inclusive. Project events in Carrbridge have and will continue to be open to all to ensure people who want to learn more about capercaillie and how they can help can access this information. The project is also keen to listen and learn from people visiting or holidaying in the village who may be interested in capercaillie and ways they can help.
This isn’t an objective for the project. However, if Carrbridge residents want to pursue this idea and there’s consensus for it the project will do what it can to help.
Emma, the Carrbridge Capercaillie Community Ranger, is based in the village on an almost daily basis. Her work varies from helping residents learn more about capercaillie to delivering volunteer sessions and following up capercaillie related concerns around the village that residents have passed on. Emma is employed by the Cairngorms National Park Authority but her post is fully funded by LEADER (EU funding). If you’d like to get in touch with Emma please call her on 07773 475 559 or via email.
No. It’s up to Carrbridge residents to decide what they do and don’t want to do to help capercaillie but residents may wish, for example, to create a safe space for their local capercaillie somewhere relevant and practical around the village. If residents wanted to pursue this idea the project would work with them to achieve it.
The Carrbridge Capercaillie Community Ranger, Emma, will only be reinforcing existing guidance regards dog walking around the village. As such she’ll continue to encourage dog walkers to voluntarily keep their dogs on leads in the woods north of the village where capercaillie are present. If dog walkers wish to exercise their dogs off lead Emma will continue to signpost them to Ellan Wood & Carr Plantation.
Capercaillie are both rare and elusive birds so it can be difficult to monitor their numbers. As capercaillie typically return to the same lek sites each year surveys at these sites are currently the simplest and most accurate way to monitor the birds. The presence of surveyors at leks has not been found to prevent birds from lekking or returning to lek sites as all surveyors follow a strict protocol to minimise disturbance.