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.