2023 grant awards: benefitting capercaillie, hen harriers and waterfowl


The BASC Wildlife Fund has this year awarded more than £100,000 in grants to fund three different conservation projects.

Each year, the BASC Wildlife Fund (BWF) awards grants to fund conservation projects and loans for land purchase linked to sustainable shooting. All projects must demonstrate the wider benefits of shooting and connecting people to their environment, and must result in long-term sustainable change.

The projects awarded BWF conservation grants for 2023 are: Emergency action for capercaillie; the SOKTA wetlands project in Finland and the hen harrier brood management trial.

Emergency action for capercaillie

A grant of £52,405 has been awarded to help restore Scotland’s capercaillie population in its last remaining stronghold in the Cairngorms National Park.

There are now only 542 capercaillie left in the UK and more than 80 per cent live in the Cairngorms. That is half the number of birds existing five years ago and the lowest recorded number in the last 30 years. Recent modelling by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) suggests that following this project capercaillie numbers in the Cairngorms could be 16 per cent higher and the risk of extinction within 50 years would drop by 92 per cent.

The BWF grant given to the emergency action for capercaillie project will fund work to mark or remove 10km unmarked fences sited in the Badenoch and Strathspey area which, left as they are, present a significant risk to resident capercaillie.

SOKTA wetlands project – Finland

A grant of €45,000 has been awarded to the SOTKA wetlands project in Finland, to restore and create three wetland sites, spanning 47 hectares, to benefit a wide range of wildlife, not least a host of wildfowl species that migrate to the UK each autumn.

SOTKA wetlands, a Finnish Wildlife Agency project, has a goal of creating 40 wetland sites by 2025. The funding will be used to build dams and dykes in order to hold spring flood waters for the benefit of breeding wildfowl and it is hoped this project will prepare the ground for further innovative, international multi-stakeholder partnerships.

hen harrier flying

Hen harrier brood management trial

Hen harriers are on the Red List of UK Birds of Conservation Concern and face a variety of challenges relating to predation, disturbance, persecution, weather conditions, disease and available prey.

In 2013, no hen harrier chicks fledged in England. However, since 2016, collaboration under the Defra Hen Harrier Recovery Plan between gamekeepers, Moorland Association members, other moorland stakeholders and Natural England has led to five consecutive record-breaking years.

During summer 2023, 141 hen harrier chicks fledged from 54 nesting attempts in England. There are now more hen harriers in England than at any point in the last 200 years.

The BWF grant of £25,000 will extend the trial and allow exploration of whether brood-managed hen harriers can breed in the wild long-term, and whether the wider population increase is due to brood management.

To find out how you can apply for a grant for a project or obtain a loan for land purchase, visit our funding pages.

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