The Guidelines


General statement
Tetraonid birds are important species for nature conservation in Europe and are highly appreciated by a large part of the human population. Their existence in protected areas is valued, which makes them very suitable as flagship species for nature conservation aims. Due to their specific habitat requirements with respect to the habitat structure and the extent of the habitat, grouse may also function as umbrella species and may serve as indicators for a site’s quality.

Where to maintain grouse?
Especially in Central Europe, grouse habitats are limited to comparatively small regions with suitable landscape conditions, wich are strongly influenced or have been created by human activities. In these landscapes habitat management is necessary to maintain grouse.

  • For maintaining grouse habitats in landscapes dominated by human land use practices, specific measures of habitat management are necessary.

The protection of grouse may conflict with other nature protection targets like protection of autogenous processes or the protection of other species. In such cases, it must be decided which nature protection aims have priority in which areas.

  • Grouse habitat management should be restricted to the parts of a landscape, where the preservation of primary habitats or the support / development of habitats of similar quality is possible.
  • Habitat management for grouse should not only be implemented where grouse are currently found , but should also consider potential habitats with favourable landscape ecological conditions for grouse.
  • Areas for grouse protection and habitat management should be defined according to
    • The area requirements of a viable population
    • The landscape ecological conditions. Grouse habitat protection/management should focus on areas where the landscape ecological conditions favour habitat conditions that correspond to primary habitats. Latitudinal and altitudinal differences, as well as climate and site conditions have to be considered.

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Basic principles for habitat management
In natural and cultural landscapes the protection of habitats requires different management concepts.

  • Primary habitats or habitats of similar quality (e.g moorland, primary or natural secondary boreal and montane forests, alpine meadows), or habitats of high continuity (for instance heathland and pine forest poor in nutrients, riverine forests along mountain creeks) must be protected.
  • Habitat management can be based on specific management measures or be an integrated part of regular land use practice.

In cultural landscapes where traditional human land use techniques supported grouse (e.g. alpine pasture, forest pasture, extracting litter from the forest), often, habitat quality can often be maintained or restored only by continuing these activities.

  • Historic land use techniques that favour grouse habitat needs should be supported. In some cases they may also serve as a tourist attraction
  • If possible, the landscape conditions that result from traditional land use techniques can also be maintained with appropriate modern techniques.

The different forest grouse species are adapted to different successional stages of the forest. Species may compete in terms of habitat management

  • Allow for full life cycle of trees
  • Grouse habitat management does not necessarily mean the conservation of a specific successional stage
  • A distribution of habitat patches in the form of a mosaic characterised by temporal and spatial dynamics is necessary
  • The required habitat conditions must cover at least 30 % of the area concerned

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

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