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Cairngorms National Park

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Carrbridge views sought on capercaillie conservation strategy

10th June 2020

The Carrbridge Capercaillie Conservation Strategy has been published and is now out for consultation, with residents of Carrbridge and the surrounding area this week receiving their copy of these important conservation proposals, along with instructions on how to make their views known. At potentially less than 1000 birds, action to save capercaillie for future generations is urgently required and Carrbridge residents have the opportunity to be at the forefront of efforts to prevent the birds’ extinction in the UK.

The consultation, which is open until the 31st July, was due to begin in March but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, with the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) currently considering a grant application to support a Park-wide capercaillie project, the Carrbridge Capercaillie Group (CCG) are keen to keep the momentum going for their part of this wider conservation effort, and are aware that residents are waiting to read the strategy and play their part.

Issie Inglis of the CCG explained: “We feel the time is right to start the consultation having delayed it due to coronavirus. We are taking all the necessary steps to ensure peoples safety – using the Royal Mail for delivery – and we will be hosting some online question and answer sessions instead of the usual drop in meetings. People wishing to comment can do so online or by using the freepost form provided.

“We hope that lots of our fellow villagers will take the time to read the conservation strategy and share their views. As a group we have worked extremely hard. Our hearts and souls, along with over1000 volunteer hours, have gone into producing this strategy. We know from previous research that the Carrbridge community cares passionately about capercaillie so now is the time to start to put plans into action.”

The Carrbridge Capercaillie Conservation Strategy is part of the Cairngorms Capercaillie Project – an initiative that aims to improve habitats and help communities deliver their own community-led action plans throughout the Park. If awarded funding from the Lottery, the project will also be researching the genetic diversity of the bird, strengthening current capercaillie monitoring and raising general awareness of the plight of capercaillie and encouraging people to get involved in their conservation. The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) has applied for a grant worth around £2m from the NLHF to support capercaillie conservation on a Park-wide basis. The grant forms part of the project’s proposed £2.9m budget and constitutes funds from the National Lottery which can only be reinvested into cultural and natural heritage initiatives. If successful, it would be a welcome boost for the Park’s economy which has been impacted by the lockdown restrictions.

Grant Moir, chief executive of the CNPA explained: “Funding doesn’t go to capercaillie. The funding goes to people, communities and businesses to help deliver capercaillie conservation on the ground. The applied for project budget will go straight back into the local economy, to make things happen and at a time when the local economy really needs help.

“Capercaillie numbers are dangerously low and the Cairngorms National Park – particularly Strathspey – is the last remaining stronghold. Carrbridge residents were given the opportunity to be a pilot community in the development phase of this project and I think the local group have done an excellent job in getting to this stage.

“Regardless of the outcome of the Park-wide funding bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the CNPA is committed to helping the Carrbridge community deliver their final agreed capercaillie conservation strategy.”

Frank Law, also a member of the CCG commented: “Across the Park, land managers are working hard to conserve capercaillie because positive action for capercaillie is not just about saving a single species – it is beneficial to a whole host of wildlife that is reliant on healthy native pinewoods.”

Among the key actions in the local strategy are:

  • Monthly volunteer parties to help improve and increase habitat for capercaillie.
  • Path improvements to encourage people to keep a safe distance from sensitive capercaillie areas.
  • Various capercaillie themed events aimed at communities of interest.
  • Commission research into the breeding success of capercaillie.
  • Analysis of scats in Kinveachy forest to learn more about predators and their impacts.

A summary report of all the views shared through this consultation will be available in August. The Carrbridge Capercaillie Group will then use this information to update the strategy accordingly while keeping the community fully informed.

In the meantime, people can access online the results and analysis of the previous Bath & Associates questionnaire at www.cairngormscapercaillie.scot.  The report and analysis is over 60 pages long and therefore will not be posted to all households, but residents are able to request printed copies by contacting the CNPA.