Capercaillie Protection - Active protection of lowland populations of Capercaillie in the Bory Dolnośląskie Forest and Augustowska Primeval Forest

LIFE11 NAT/PL/000428

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Janusz Kobielski
Tel: +48 75 771 43 38
Fax: +48 75 771 43 39
Email: ruszow@wroclaw.lasy.gov.pl

Project description:


The project area covers the vast coniferous lowland forest, Bory Dolnośląskie, and the Augustowska primeval forest, where populations of the capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) – an Annex I species of the EU Birds Directive – still occur, but are under threat. In the Augustowska primeval forest, for example, the population has declined to only 30-40 individuals. According to a detailed study carried out in the two areas, the main factors for this decline include: the critically low population numbers; adverse genetic status; isolation of the populations; alteration of habitat; human-induced threats; and excessive impact from predator mammals. In 2009, a pilot programme of reintroductions was started in the forest of Bory Dolnośląskie with the release of 24 individuals from various Polish breeding centres. The planned activities of this LIFE+ project will comply with the National Plan for the Protection of the Capercaillie and also with the recommendations of the IUCN Reintroduction Group for the species.


This project aims to conserve two of the four remaining populations of capercaillie in the “Bory Dolnośląskie” and the “Augustowska forest” Natura 2000 sites. Its actions will be carried out by local foresters who will be encouraged to adopt ‘simple’ conservation methods, such as improvement of habitat and changes in forestry management practices, in combination with the release of individual birds bred in captivity – a methodology that has already proven to be very effective in Bory Dolnośląskie. Specific project objectives include:

  • Restoring the capercaillie populations in the two forests by releasing birds obtained from Polish breeding centres;
  • Improving and monitoring the quality of biotope to meet the habitat requirements of the species;
  • Reducing and monitoring the numbers of predator mammals (foxes, racoon-dogs, martens, badgers, American minks, and racoons) by shooting or capturing the animals in live-traps;
  • Improving and monitoring capercaillie habitats;
  • Reducing the human impact (e.g. from disturbance); and
  • Promoting the project via environmental education and other dissemination activities.
  • Expected results

  • Release of 110-140 birds into the Augustowska forest and 175-225 individuals into the Bory Dolnośląskie forest;
  • An assessment of the habitat quality on 10 000 ha in Bory Dolnośląskie;
  • Improvement in the habitat for the species in Bory Dolnośląskie, on at least 67 000 ha, and in Augustowska, on at least 62 000 ha. This will be achieved through specific actions, including: constructing gates and small ponds to improve the water regime; removing excessive tree undergrowth and forest bottom vegetation (501 ha in total); Improving the available food supply and shelter on 125 ha; marking 165 km of wire net fences and dismantling some 77 km of such fences; removing neophytic plants (Spiraea) on 6 ha in Bory Dolnośląskie and planting bog whortleberry; stemming the spread of invasive species on 640 km of forest roads; installing 84 barriers and 168 information boards to reduce human-induced threats; constructing a 7.6 km tourist trail to keep visitors away from capercaillie sanctuaries in Bory Dolnośląskie; and reducing the population of predatory mammals by some 3 500 in total; and creating a capercaillie population database.
  • As a result of these actions, the project expects to reach a stable capercaillie population in Bory Dolnośląskie of 90-110 adult birds and a stable population in Augustowska of 80-100 birds. Finally, the project expects to improve awareness of the capercaillie through a range of dissemination activities, including:
  • Training courses for 1 500 people;
  • Seminars and an international conference (to be attended by 300 people in total);
  • 54 000 copies of various publications;
  • Touring exhibitions on the biology and ecology of the capercaillie; and
  • The opening of a Capercaillie Museum in the Głęboki Bród Forest District.

  • Results


Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Birds


endangered species‚  forest ecosystem‚  restoration measure

Target species

 Tetrao urogallus     

Natura 2000 sites

SPA PLB200002 Puszcza Augustowska
SPA PLB020005 Bory Dolnośląskie



Coordinator Nadleśnictwo Ruszów
Type of organisation National authority
Description The coordinating beneficiary is Nadleśnictwo Ruszów, a public body responsible for state forestry services in Poland.
Partners Nadleśnictwo Głęboki Bród


Project reference LIFE11 NAT/PL/000428
Duration 01-AUG-2012 to 30-JUN -2018
Total budget 5,312,007.00 €
EU contribution 2,656,003.00 €
Project location Podlaskie(Poland Polska) Dolnoslaskie(Poland Polska)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version