The Guidelines


Conservation management must include areas outside Natura 2000

Viable populations of grouse species require large areas of habitat – of hundreds of square kilometres. Natura 2000 sites are not big enough to support viable grouse populations in the long term.

  • Management for grouse species must therefore include land surrounding and connecting Natura 2000 sites.
  • The overall management area should be defined according to the ecological and population-related requirements of the grouse species in question and should encompass an area big enough to support a viable population in the long term.

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Avoid further fragmentation of habitats
Habitat fragmentation and habitat degradation are major threats to grouse species in Europe. Physical fragmentation can lead to habitat loss at the local level and to loss of a population’s connectivity and gene flow at the landscape level.

  • At the landscape level, an area of suitable habitat sufficient to support a viable population of the species must be provided. Ideally, the habitat should be continuous. If it is not continuous, the habitat needs to be sufficiently interconnected, in space and time, to facilitate adequate dispersal and gene flow throughout the whole population.

Connectivity between habitat patches does not only depend on the distance, but also on the landscape conditions found between the habitat patches.

  • The mean dispersal distance of the grouse species should be used to assess the functional connectivity between the habitat patches within the landscape.
  • Dispersal also depends on the grouse population density and the breeding success in each patch, which should be maximised.

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Minimise disturbance
Functional fragmentation due to disturbance limits or even prevents the use of habitats.

  • Significant disturbance must be avoided.
  • If it is unknown whether a form of disturbance is significant it should be avoided or minimized on the basis of the precautionary principle

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Minimise negative human impact
Collisions with wire fences, overhead wires and ski wires often kill birds

  • Wires and fences should not be erected within Natura 2000 sites and other key areas for grouse
  • Existing fences and wires should be removed where possible
  • Where wires and fences are unavoidable their visibility must be increased (e.g. with wooden slats or plastic coverings)

Litter and food scraps can increase the number of predators

  • Minimise the availability of extra food sources to predators
  • Regulations for recreational facilities (e.g. campsites, picnic areas) are necessary
  • Provide extra cover for grouse in areas with high tourist pressure

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Maintain undisturbed refuges
Undisturbed refuges of sufficient size are essential

  • Tourism should not contribute to further fragmentation and degradation of grouse habitats.
  • Further tourist development should focus on existing infrastructure according to the zonation concept
  • Patches of undisturbed habitat (no roads, no tourist infrastructure, no settlements) should be at least 100 ha in size
  • The total area of all patches classified as undisturbed grouse refuge should be large enough to support the local sub-population and should be interconnected with other refuges
  • When calculating the area of undisturbed refuge habitat, a disturbance zone of 100 m alongside any tracks should be subtracted.

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Monitor grouse
As a basis for grouse / habitat management a continuous monitoring of the grouse population is necessary.

  • A long-term monitoring strategy should be established
  • The monitoring strategy should include all relevant data (e.g. from hunters, foresters, nature protection groups, birdwatchers etc.)

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Quantify impacts of tourism
There is a lack of scientific knowledge about the impact of tourism (and of the different forms of tourism and nature sports) on grouse

  • The cumulative impact of various tourism developments should be considered
  • As a basis for research and conservation planning, continuous monitoring of grouse abundance and productivity, habitat quality and tourist activities (visitor monitoring, monitoring of impacts etc.) must be carried out
  • Indicators of disturbance must be defined (according to species and according to bio-geographic regions)

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Differences within Europe
In the following, differences of selected aspects of ‘grouse and tourism‘ from the viewpoint of grouse protection are estimated and illustrated for the different regions:

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