UPM Tilhill helps increase black grouse in Llandegla

(UPM Tilhill, North Wales, 20 July, 2010) - UPM Tilhill staff from Bala, North Wales, are celebrating after discovering the number of black grouse - in Llandegla Forest has increased two years in a row.

UPM Tilhill staff have been involved in this year’s annual black grouse lek* 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 explained: "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 ten years. This work has contributed to the range of lekking and feeding opportunities for the local black grouse population.

The Welsh Black Grouse Recovery project has clear links with UPM's global biodiversity programme. This aims to maintain and enhance biodiversity in company forests as well as develop best practice in sustainable forestry ( www.upm-kymmene.com/sustainableforestry ).

The programme focuses on six key 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 is providing benefits for the local black grouse population such as cover from predators, a food source and roosting places. There are also wider ecological benefits.

Llandegla (http://www.coedllandegla.com/) is home to one of the largest privately owned recreation facilities in North Wales. Mountain biking, walking and bird hides are provided within the forest.

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. In the long term, the project aims to increase the range and numbers of black grouse in Wales. In addition, it aims to raise the profile of black grouse in Wales and awareness of how management measures can reverse the decline. Using the Welsh Black Grouse Survey in 1997, the project identified six key areas, based mainly on the presence of suitable habitat and known distribution of male black grouse in mid and north Wales.

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About black grouse: As one of the most rapidly declining bird species in the UK, with only 6,500 lekking males, black grouse is a high priority for conservation, and is one of 26 bird species for which a UK Biodiversity Action Plan has been produced. The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and the RSPB have been designated Lead Partners for black grouse by the government, with Scottish Natural Heritage as the government contact point. Statutory and non-governmental organisations work together to achieve these targets, through a range of actions.

A lek is a gathering of males, of certain animal species, for the purposes of competitive mating display. Leks assemble before and during the breeding season, on a daily basis. The same group of males meet at a traditional place and take up the same individual positions on an arena, each occupying and defending a small territory or court. Intermittently or continuously, they spar individually with their neighbours or put on extravagant visual or aural displays (mating "dances" or gymnastics, plumage displays, vocal challenges, etc.).


For further information please contact: Mrs Suzi Christie, Blueberry Public Relations Tel 01435 830031 suzi@blueberry-pr.co.uk

Notes to editors:

UPM Tilhill is the UK’s largest timber harvesting and forest management company. It harvests and markets over 2.0 million tonnes out of a UK market in excess of 8 million tonnes per year. The company provides a full range of consultancy and contracting services to the forest owner and forestry investor. It also provides market leading services in utility arboriculture and commercial landscaping throughout the UK. Further information is available on the company’s website at www.upm-tilhill.com

UPM leads the integration of bio and forest industries into a new, sustainable and innovation-driven future. Our products are made of renewable raw materials and are recyclable. UPM consists of three Business Groups: Energy and pulp, Paper, and Engineered materials. The Group employs around 23,000 people and it has production facilities in 15 countries. In 2009, UPM's sales amounted to EUR 7.7 billion. UPM's shares are listed on the Helsinki stock exchange.

UPM – The Biofore Company – www.upmbiofore.com and www.upm.com