UPM Tilhill staff have been involved in this year’s annual black grouse count on Ruabon Mountain and Llandegla Moor. The provisional count so far for Ruabon Mountain and Llandegla Moor for 2010 is 117 males - an increase from last year’s count and exceeding the local Biodiversity Action Plan target of 101 males.
UPM Tilhill, which owns and manages the 650-hectare Llandegla Forest, is part of and works closely with the Wales Black Grouse Recovery Project (http://www.blackgrouse.info/recovery/wales.htm). Black grouse are a rapidly declining species in most part of the UK but, thanks to action and conservation work, the numbers are stabilising in North Wales.
UPM Tilhill Forest Manager Simon Miller said:
"We have worked closely in partnership with the RSPB and the Countryside Council for Wales for many years in an attempt to improve the woodland edge habitat for black grouse. As a consequence, of our strategy to make sure there is a patchwork of different age trees in the forest, black grouse numbers are on the increase.
"For me it’s a real thrill to be part of the annual count. The sight and sound of black grouse lekking is one of the wonders of the Welsh uplands."
Management of external and internal forest edge habitats, to create graded edges and maintain semi-natural upland vegetation, has been a key part of UPM Tilhill’s management of Llandegla over the past 10 years. This work has contributed to the range of lekking and feeding opportunities for the local black grouse population.
UPM has a Global Biodiversity Programme that aims to maintain and enhance biodiversity in company forests as well as develop best practice in sustainable forestry (http://w3.upm-kymmene.com/upm/infocus/sustainableforestry/3_1.htm)
The programme focuses on six elements for biodiversity: native tree species; deadwood; valuable habitats; forest structure; water and natural forests and is implemented through country level targets and action plans. By varying the ages and species of trees within the woodlands at Llandegla, and the maintenance and restoration of semi-natural habitats, UPM Tilhill aims to provide benefits for the local black grouse population such as cover from predators, a food source and roosting places.
The Welsh Black Grouse Recovery Project started in June 1999 to stop the serious decline of black grouse in Wales which, if left unchecked, could have led to their extinction in 10 to15 years.