LIFE Project Cover Photo

Conservation of the Cantabrian Capercaille(Tetrao urogallus cantabricus) in its habitat in the Cantabrian Mountain range.

Reference: LIFE09 NAT/ES/000513 | Acronym: UROGALLO CANTABRICO



North-west Spain’s Cantabrian mountains are home to an isolated and endangered population of capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), which live in forests above 800 m. This population forms the south-western edge of the EU’s capercaillie distribution and survives in an area smaller than 2 000 km2. Cantabrian capercaillies have suffered a serious decline in numbers during recent decades, particularly at the edges of the distribution range and at lower altitudes. The population is considered in danger of extinction according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


The LIFE Nature project’s objective is to improve the conservation status of the Cantabrian capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus cantabricus). Conservation works will target the Natura 2000 network sites that are being designated in the Cantabrian Mountains and so also benefit the birds’ habitat, as well as other allied species. Project outcomes are anticipated to improve the connectivity and functionality of the capercaillie’s habitat. A pilot phase will test the partnership approach required for implementing conservation actions across different municipality areas. This will be followed by implementation of a full, homogenous, cross-cutting project for the entire area where the species is found, combining in-situ conservation actions (e.g. habitat improvement, control of predators and competitors, non-natural mortality reduction) with ex-situ activities (a captive breeding and restocking programme). Experts, civil society and private landowners will participate via different, and at times innovative, conservation methodologies.

Expected results:

  • The population decline of the Cantabrian capercaillie will be halted;
  • Scientific knowledge about the species will be increased and best practices identified/published regarding habitat management for the Cantabrian capercaillie;
  • Landowner participation will be secured in works to improve capercaillie habitats and traditional land use practices harmonised with the bird's conservation needs;
  • The Cantabrian capercaillie will be established as a key species in SPA management along the Cantabrian mountain range and improvements made to the bird's habitat in the SPA;
  • Measures will be implemented to reduce threats from competitors (such as red deer) and also pressures from predators;
  • A breeding pool centre will be established, making available a captive stock of birds for release and restocking purposes;
  • Opportunities will be identified for generating win-win benefits for nature conservation and rural employment through design of sustainable economic development strategies for the project area;
  • Public awareness will be raised about the capercaillie and the importance/relevance of supporting its conservation.


    Reference: LIFE09 NAT/ES/000513
    Start Date: 01/10/2010
    End Date: 30/12/2016
    Total Eligible Budget: 7,314,486 €
    EU Contribution: 3,509,252 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Fundacion Biodiversidad
    Legal Status: PUBLIC
    Address: Jos Abascal 4 - 6 Planta, 280003, Madrid,
    Contact Person: External Team NEEMO-IDOM
    Email: Send Email

    LIFE Project Map



    • Grasslands


    • nature conservation
    • mountainous area
    • endangered species


    • Tetrao urogallus


    Type Code Name
    SPA ES0000055 Fuentes del Narcea y del Ibias
    SPA ES0000003 Picos de Europa
    SPA ES0000054 Somiedo
    SPA ES0000210 Alto Sil
    SCI ES1120001 Ancares - Courel
    SPA ES1200001 Picos de Europa (Asturias)
    SPA ES1200002 Muniellos
    SPA ES1200008 Redes
    SPA ES1200009 Ponga-Amieva
    SCI ES1300001 Liébana
    SCI ES1300021 Valles altos del Nansa y Saja y Alto Campoo
    SPA ES4130003 Picos de Europa en Castilla y León
    SPA ES4130010 Sierra de los Ancares
    SPA ES4140011 Fuentes Carrionas y Fuente Cobre-Montaña Palentina
    SPA ES0000198 Liébana
    SPA ES0000251 Sierra del Cordel y cabeceras del Nansa y del Saja
    SPA ES0000315 Ubiña-La Mesa
    SPA ES0000364 Omaña - ZEPA
    SPA ES0000374 Ancares
    SCI ES4130149 Omaña


    Name Type
    Fundacion Biodiversidad Coordinator
    Organismo Autónomo Parques Nacionales, Spain Participant
    Gobierno de Cantabria, Spain Participant
    Fundación del Patrimonio Natural de Castilla y León, Spain Participant
    Gobierno del Principado de Asturias, Spain Participant
    Xunta de Galicia, Spain Participant
    Sociedad Española de Ornitología (Seo/BirdLife), Spain Participant