About the conference

Goals and assumptions of the conference

Capercaillies (Tetrao urogallus) are the biggest representatives of Galliformes inhabiting mainly boreal forests and mountain zones of temperate climate. They prefer poor coniferous forest sites of high moisture content and loose crown cover. They are related with coniferous species (pines in the lowland, spruces and firs in the mountains), the important element of groundcover is Vaccinium myrtillus (blueberry). Compact geographical range of the capercaillie covers the northern Europe and northern and western part of Asia. In Central and Western Europe the species has survived mainly in the mountains. For over 100 years, the number and reach of capercaillies has been decreasing both in Poland and in the other part of the reach. Crucial threats for the species are fragmentation and disturbance of habitats, predator pressure, low number and narrow gene pool of populations isolated by space, as well as anthropopression.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the number of capercaillies in Poland was estimated at ca. 2500 specimens. After the World War II, the national population included only 700-1350 birds. In the following decades, the pace of capercaillies number decline would increase. At the end of the 80’s of the 20th century, the Promeranian population disappeared and the number of Podlasie population decreased drastically. At the turn of the centuries the capercaillies vanished in Sudeten Mountains, and at the end of the first decade of the 20th century – in the Lower Silesia. In 2013, 380-500 capercaillies inhabited Poland, and currently their number is estimated at 470-600 specimens living in four populations: (1) Augustowska Primeval Forest, (2) Janowskie Forests and Solska Primeval Forest, (3) Carpathian Mountains (4) Bory Dolnośląskie Forest. In Poland, the capercaillie is the species registered in the “Polish Red Book of Animals” as the critically endangered species (CR).

Since the 90’s of the 20th century Poland has been taken action to limit the pace of decline of the number and repopulation of capercaillies. One of the latest initiatives is the project “Active protection of capercaillie lowland populations Tetrao urogallus Bory Dolnośląskie Forest and Augustowska Primeval Forest” (LIFE11 NAT/PL/428), co-funded by the European Commission, National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management and the Polish State Forests. The amount of funds earmarked for the planned actions in 2012-2018 is EUR 5.3 mln. The main beneficiary of the program is the Ruszów Forest District, and the co-beneficiary - Głęboki Bród Forest District. The project is implemented throughout the area of 71 tho. ha of Augustowska Primeval Forest and 84 tho. ha of Bory Dolnoślaskie Forest, and involves a set of actions in the scope of active protection of capercaillie population, i.e. (1) reintroduction and monitoring of birds from domestic breeding and translocated from wild population inhabiting Scandinavia and Russia, (2) creation of preservation capercaillie breeding in Augustowska Primeval Forest, (3) limiting predation, (4) improving capercaillie habitats through i.a. the construction of low water retention facilities, removal of excess quantity of sapling and understory, removal of invasive species and others, (5) limiting anthropopressure as well as (6) educating the public. The final effect of the project will be the repopulation of capercaillies in Bory Dolnośląskie Forest as well as stopping the decline of their number in Augustowska Primeval Forest.