The Famous Grouse and RSPB toast £600K fundraising for Black Grouse Conservation

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The Famous Grouse is toasting the success of its partnership with RSPB which has reached a significant fundraising milestone of £600,000.

L-r: Alison Connelly, head of funding development at RSPB and Smith

The money will help the much loved charity continue their vital conservation work supporting endangered grouse species throughout the UK.

The partnership dates back to 2008 to coincide with the launch of a new whisky by the No.1 selling brand – The Black Grouse. As part of the launch, The Famous Grouse pledged its support to RSPB to save the new whisky’s namesake.

At the time of the partnership, the iconic birds were on the UK Red List of Species of Conservation Concern and listed as a priority on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) as well as being included within the Scottish Government’s Species Action Framework.

Suzy Smith, Marketing Director for The Famous Grouse, commented: “We are proud of our partnership with RSPB and are thrilled to have reached this fantastic milestone allowing us to help support the terrific work the charity does for the UK’s wildlife.

“When we launched The Black Grouse whisky it was agreed that 50p from the sale of every bottle in the UK would be donated to the RSPB for the duration of the three year partnership to fund black grouse conservation across four reserves: Inversnaid and Corrimony in Scotland; Geltsdale in the North of England; and Lake Vrynwy in Wales. Over time more reserves also benefitted from the partnership support, including Abernethy near Aviemore, and The Crannach, on Deeside.

“It was a significant achievement to break the £100,000 mark by 2010 and we are proud to have continued to work with RSPB and to have now raised over £600,000.”

Stuart Housden, director RSPB Scotland explained: “The primary cause of the decline in black grouse is degradation and fragmentation of their moorland and woodland habitats. Donations from The Famous Grouse have helped improve grouse habitats across 85,000 acres of nature reserve land, supported the planting of 185,000 native trees and the mowing of 30 hectares of heather.

“The fund has also helped purchase the Crannach nature reserve; a woodland and upland area on Deeside and within the Cairngorms National Park.

“Additionally, this funding has enabled the RSPB to work in partnership with Scottish National Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland to review and provide best practice advice on the habitat requirements for black grouse to encourage private landowners to help this iconic species. This approach has enabled the prioritisation of conservation resources both on state-owned land and across the wider countryside.”

During the life of the partnership, there has been a welcome upward trend in population numbers of black grouse across RSPB reserves in northern Scotland and the focus is now on improving its prospects in southern Scotland where the black grouse numbers are in sharp decline and its populations are increasingly fragmented.

Housden continued: “A particular success story for the partnership is in Corrimony, in North Scotland. The lek count for 2016 at RSPB Corrimony was 45 males, up from 28 males in 2013. This was one of the original reserves to receive support from the partnership. This support allowed RSPB to undertake a range of management on the reserve including more than 40 hectares of woodland creation, 20 hectares of woodland re-structuring and several hectares of heather swiping.”

Smith added: “It is very rewarding to see the positive impact of our funding and we look forward to more success stories as a result of our partnership with RSPB.

“Last year our Black Grouse whisky received a makeover and was renamed The Famous Grouse Smoky Black and at this stage we extended our partnership to take in our whole portfolio of whiskies including the latest addition to the family, The Famous Grouse Mellow Gold.”