Specific species conservation measures: wood grouse (capercaillie)

Specific species conservation measures: wood grouse (capercaillie)
The wood grouse is a characteristic species of light, structurally rich boreal and montane forest habitats. © Eidgenössische Forschungsanstalt WSL

Involved sectors

Forestry, Hunting, Tourism and leisure, Nature protection

Affected habitats

Forest, Grassland


The wood grouse (capercaillie) (Tetrao urogallus) is a characteristic species of light, structurally rich boreal and montane forest habitats. Due to its extensive spatial and specific habitat requirements, it is regarded as an umbrella species for the high-montane community. Acutely endangered as a result of habitat losses and degeneration, it is a target species under the EU Birds Directive. The species therefore plays a key role in nature conservation and spatial planning, not only from a conservation but also from a socio-cultural and socio-economic perspective. Due to its habitat requirements, support measures for capercaillie contribute directly to the implementation of biotope network concepts, e.g. through the creation of mosaics of different habitats and corridor and stepping stone structures.


Impact in particular on Birds
Ecological impact  
Reduction of fragmentation or creation of new valuable habitats Reduction of fragmentation effect of normal commercial forest stands.
Improvement or preservation of habitats All measures primarily aim to improve the habitat for grouse and thus address the primary threat to the species.
Element of ecological network Structures which characterise wood grouse (capercaillie) habitat are suitable as connective structures for other species as well.
Other Various potential fields of conflict are addressed in relation to the wood grouse (capercaillie) (tourism/recreation, commercial forestry).
Time of realisation for measure Years: Management measures for wood grouse populations entail long-term commitment and permanent changes to usage and procedures.
Impact scope Local (municipality): With wood grouse in particular, measures always have regional as well as local significance.


Implementation period Days: Individual management measures do not take up much time, but a regular and comprehensive approach is required to achieve the desired impacts.
Frequency Recurring: Most of the relevant measures require regular implementation.

Economic and legal aspects

Costs Low (1'000-10'000 EUR): Varies widely according to the measures undertaken; no general estimate possible.
Socio-economic impacts Low: Measures which benefit the wood grouse will also have a positive impact on other species in montane forests.
Sources of financing Other private sources, Public: local, Public: regional, Public: national, Public: European
Legal situation Wood grouse is protected by a raft of legislation (Natura 2000).

Further information

Evaluation In some regions, wood grouse is regarded as an umbrella species for biotope network projects. It is reliant on richly structured and differentiated habits. Ecological connectivity is therefore particularly important here, especially as wood grouse populations are often highly endangered.
Information Other: e.g. Capercaillie Action Plan, Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Switzerland. Detailed information about the wood grouse (capercaillie): http://www.waldwissen.net/
Contact Other: e.g. National coordination centre of the Swiss species recovery programme for birds: Ueli Rehsteiner, Swiss Association for the Protection of Birds SVS/BirdLife Switzerland ; Reto Spaar, Swiss Ornithological Institute

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