Norway 2015 Joint Report

Posted by

Thank You A huge thank you to Marius and all those who made our visit so special and for sharing their time and boundless energy for conservation with us.Thank you also to Libby, Archnetwork and the Erasmus+ programme for providing us with this fantastic opportunity and for making the trip possible. We learnt so much and look forward to taking the knowledge and experiences back to our own organisations and beyond.


In May 2015 we took part in a structured training programme in Norway, organised through ArchNetwork, a Scottish Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) which promotes learning and development in natural and cultural heritage between Scotland and other European countries. The programme was funded through Erasmus+ which is managed in the UK by the British Council and Ecorys UK.

The group consisted of six conservationists from a variety of Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) and backgrounds.

  • image2
    Mike Townsend
    Principal AdvisorWoodland Trust
  • image3
    Liz Auty
    Biodiversity Officer, Shehallion Property ManagerJohn Muir Trust
  • image4
    Kate Bellew
    Conservation Planner Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
  • image5
    Kelly Ann Dempsey 
    Teacher Naturalist Scottish Wildlife Trust
  • image6
    Heather Swift
    Site Manager Cumbria & Northumberland Woodland Trust
  • image7
    Doug Shapley
    Assistant Conservation Officer Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

The objective was to develop our understanding of conservation issues and exchange ideas through meeting experts and seeing practical examples of research and wildlife management in Norway. We also all had our own personal development objectives that we wanted to achieve.
Our host for the week was Marius Kjonsberg, lecturer for the Applied Ecology and Agricultural Science Facility at the University of Hedmark. We were based mainly at the Evenstad campus, located in the south east of Norway. Marius was a fantastic host and managed to co-ordinate a great variety of topics and arranged for pertinent site visits and talks. We learnt a great deal that we hope to apply to the management of our own natural resources.
This report aims to provide summary of our experiences and insights from the trip. It provides a reflection of our personal experiences and does not necessarily represent the views of individual organisations.

The structure of the report is as follows:

Itinerary & highlights of the week

Sunday May 24th – Oslo

After a fairly short flight we land in Oslo.   We travel to a motel close for the airport. No sign of any bears yet but we’re all excited about the wildlife spotting ahead of us! 

After a fairly short flight we land in Oslo.   We travel to a motel close for the airport. No sign of any bears yet but we’re all excited about the wildlife spotting ahead of us!

Monday May 25th – Marius and the Forestry Museum

We meet Marius, university lecturer, hunter and tour guide for the week. He's friendly, enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable about all things natural.Marius drives us to the Norwegian forestry museum. We stop off to discuss forestry issues at a site that is naturally regenerating after being affected by a fire. We also spot some cranes - huge birds – in the fields on route.  The forestry museum is world class. It’s exciting and inspiring and gives us a taste for the week to come.

We meet Marius, university lecturer, hunter and tour guide for the week. He’s friendly, enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable about all things natural.Marius drives us to the Norwegian forestry museum. We stop off to discuss forestry issues at a site that is naturally regenerating after being affected by a fire. We also spot some cranes – huge birds – in the fields on route. 
The forestry museum is world class. It’s exciting and inspiring and gives us a taste for the week to come.

Tuesday May 26th – Hedmark University and a Moose!


Marius gives us a tour of the University campus. It’s a beautiful setting and even has a real live moose outside! After lunch (reindeer burgers) we present our experience of wildlife management to the Norwegian staff and students. Once the hard work is done we explore the forest. There are wolves, bears, moose and wolverine all living in the surrounding area so a pretty exciting trek! We see signs of moose and some slightly larger scat (poo) which we take home to identify later. Our bird list has over 30 species so far.

Wednesday May 27th – Big Cats and Capercaillie

Setting up camera

Our day starts early as we have lectures to attend. The talks are fascinating and we all feel pretty privileged to be speaking to Norway’s experts on BIG carnivores.After lunch (more reindeer) we drive 2 hours to an area where students are undertaking research on moose browsing. They discovered a capercaillie nest that day so we watch as they set up a camera. 
We stop on route to see an osprey nest and black grouse lek and also drive past a capercaillie on the side of the road!

Thursday May 28th – Reindeer, Arctic fox, Musk Ox and Beavers

Spectaculur Mountains

An early start (5.15) to head north to the mountains for the night. We meet Heidi, a hunter and nature interpreter at the Reindeer centre. She talks to us about reindeer management and the development pressures from log cabins. The reindeer in the area are a distinct species not found anywhere else in the world. They’re particularly sensitive to human infrastructure – roads or huts within 5km.We see some Musk Ox. We’re told to keep at least 200m away as they’re known to attack. Next stop, the arctic fox breeding station before heading to our lodgings for the night. We explore the grounds which include a river with beavers!! Marius takes us fishing and we leave out some nets for the night.

Friday May 29th – National Park and Jutulhogget Canyon

Successful fishing trip

Wake up and there’s thick snow outside. We head to the lake to pick up our nets and find lots of fish! We eat them for lunch. Delicious.   From pond to plate in less than an hour.We head south, stopping at a national park and Jutulhogget Canyon – Northern Europe’s largest canyon, formed during the last Ice Age.

 Saturday May 30th – Wildlife Safari!

Wolf kill

We meet Floris, a wildlife guide and photographer. First stop, a wolf kill. There’s not much left to the moose remains. No sign of the skull which the wolves may have taken off to ‘play with’.The 4.30 am start is worth it. We see lots of wildlife including black throated divers, dippers, black woodpecker, blue throat, goldeneye duck, red squirrel and a number of wild moose. 
Back to the university to view some amazing wildlife photography. Our lectures continue into the early evening before heading back for our last dinner together.

Floris shows us a fresh wolf kill
Sunday May 31st – Moose management

Beaver damage

Our last day in Norway.   Marius takes us to see some moose feeding stations and areas where they’ve tried fencing to minimise browsing damage.Final stop is to see signs of beaver activity before heading to the airport to start our journey home.

Signs of beaver damage

Map to show the key locations for the visit


Legislation and Wildlife Protection Regimes

Norway is not part of the European Union and therefore has a different approach to wildlife management than Scotland or other European countries. Whilst Norway isn’t subject to the Natura Directives, there are relevant national laws and regulations. The Nature Diversity Act is the key legislation which provides rules for the sustainable use and protection of the natural environment.

Almost 17% of mainland Norway is now protected under the Nature Diversity Act. A large proportion is mountainous – these areas tend to be less favourable for agriculture or forestry areas and are generally Government owned. This means that some habitat types, such as coastal and marine habitats, are not represented and there are plans to designate further areas to protect these habitats.

The type of protection area determines the level of restrictions to human activities. Nature Reserves have the greatest restrictions, followed by National Parks, then other protected areas which include landscape. The Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management has overall responsibility for regulating the environment. The Norwegian Nature Inspectorate (referred to as SNO), is the part that follows up on compliance and enforcement.

Decisions regarding the management of protected areas are made locally by a board of people who are democratically elected. SNO then carry out the work and also provide advice to ensure plans are within the law. This ‘bottom up’ approach is very different to Scotland. The SNO participate in committee meetings and are much more integrated into local decision making than the equivalent bodies in Scotland. Being locally based also makes it easier to work with locals on issues such as wildlife crime.

In Norway the Wildlife Act permits hunting of some species during certain times of the year. This includes species such as capercaillie and black grouse, which are declining in Scotland and the focus of many conservation efforts. Whilst hunting is permitted in Norway, regulations regarding development and disturbance to species can be quite strict. For example, no development at all is permitted within protected nature reserves. Dogs must be kept on a leash during the breading season throughout the whole of Norway and in some areas are not permitted at all.

The system of land ownership is also quite different in Norway. A large proportion is state owned (including a lot of protected areas). By law, land must be passed down to the oldest child. Rural landholdings can only be sold to Norwegians who intend to live and work on the farm. NGOs cannot purchase land and do not own nature reserves.

The extent of the state role in environmental management and protection compared to Scotland is quite striking. Whilst many environmental decisions are made locally, many support services, such as research and monitoring, ranger operations on the ground are undertaken centrally. NGOs in Norway play a different role to their equivalents in Scotland, which, are increasingly relied upon to undertake essential environmental services as Government support is cut back.

Cultural influences on hunting

“Hunting has the potential to remind modern societies of their reliance on natural systems” (Peterson et al., 2010).

Landscape Scale Matters and the Black Death

I have a background in wildlife management so visiting Hedmark and learning of how species and habitats are managed in a neighbouring country was certainly a very exciting opportunity. I learned more than I could have imagined about the ecology of the Hedmark area and was shown innovative work which I hope able to put into practice in Scotland. What struck me most of all, was how historical and cultural traditions and influences are intertwined with the Norwegian interaction with wildlife, particularly with regards to hunting and land management practices. This, in my view, has led to healthier, better managed ecosystems than those in Scotland. Recreational hunting, an activity often seen in a negative light in Scotland can be seen to be a positive influence on many aspects of life in Hedmark e.g. sustainable food provision, leisure and recreation, learning and cultural stewardship and managing the surrounding environment.

Landscape scale and population size were recurring themes that seemed to influence most aspects of species and habitat management. Norway dwarfs Scotland, having a land mass of 385,178 km2 and a population density of 15.5/km2. Scotland covers an area of 78,387 km2 and our population density is 67.5/km2. The plague was referred to in more than one of the lectures we attended and we discovered that after the Black Death spread to Norway in 1349 it had killed a third of the population within a year and had reduced the population to half by 1400. Many communities were entirely wiped out, which eased pressures on the land. I assume that the effects of this can still be felt to an extent today.

Norway has large tracts of forest that stretch as far as Finland and beyond, Scotland has a far more fragmented landscape and our forest are often little islands sitting in isolation. Hedmark, we were told, is 94% wilderness/forest, 4% agricultural land and 2% settlement. Our wonder at the regions extensive tree cover stuck with us all for the first few days of the trip. Interestingly it is only 504 km from Aberdeen to Stavanger, less distance than that of Aberdeen to London. This North Sea divide is surely one of the significant factors that have shaped of our countries current ecological state in terms of patterns of species migration, colonisation and human land use practices.

A Long History of Hunting

We discovered that 10% of the Norwegian population hunts, both men and women, and there is a high acceptance of hunting in general (more than 90%). Today people often collectively hunt. This practice has persisted for thousands of years. Hunting is about recreation but feeding oneself and family with sustainable, locally caught animals seems to be another very strong driving force.

We learned of the use over the last 2000 years of hunting pits, used to trap reindeer and moose. In the Dovre area which we visited, the distribution of ancient reindeer pitfall trap systems suggests that humans exploited the regional migration of reindeer between seasonal pastures. Migrating animals were targeted by funneling their movements between natural barriers over the mountain plateau’s leading then directly to pit fall traps.

Pitfall trap

Figure 1 Reconstruction of Reindeer Pitfall trap

In Dovre, two pitfall trapping systems, totaling at least 1547 individual pitfalls have been catalogued (Jordhøy, P. 2008). Amundsen et al., 2003 states that “trapping elk in pits is an extremely effective hunting method, and as early as the 16th century the Norwegian government tried to restrict their use and in 1860 the hunting method was banned by law. Nevertheless, the method was in use until the 20th century”. Interestingly when I tried to investigate the history of pit fall taps in Scotland I found very little evidence. I came across on example from the Mye Plantation, near Glenluce,

Dumfries & Galloway dating back to approximately

2240 BC (SCARF.2015).

As we had been shown at The Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre, reindeer were hunted to extinction over much of Europe much closer to the end of the last ice age and Norway was, and still is, the guardian of a very important population.

Modern Day Hunting Practices

Just as in Bronze Age times hunting practices today in Norway clearly still tie modern society to natural systems. Marius told us of how grouse hunting is managed today. Locals are very active in the practice in Hedmark but he also told of how people from urban areas welcome the opportunity to participate in grouse hunting and surveying. Norwegians love their dogs, and dogs are integral to many hunting scenarios. Often the opportunity to train dogs in this outdoor pursuit attracts participants who will happily drive 5hrs from Oslo to be involved. We were surprised to learn that legislation is in place which states that dogs aren’t allowed off the leash from April to August – there is a very relaxed social acceptance of limitations such as this. Would cooperation in Scotland be as forthcoming?

Marius told of us how social media, websites and reporting portals are used for tracking reindeer and moose movements, grouse numbers and can even aid in wildlife crime detection. This data is used in Norway to help formulate species quotas for annual hunting permits. In the UK through the British Association for Shooting and Conservation “Green shoots” project hunters (mainly wildfowlers) also contribute data to research, and as in Norway, mainly of game species.

Although Moose have been hunted for thousands of years e.g. pitfall traps, it has only been since the 1970’s that moose hunting has become as prominent as it is today. According to old shooting records moose numbers were stable in the 1950’s and rose significantly in the 70’s. Today they remain at high levels. Hunting regulations and changes in forestry practices have driven this population increase and there is an approximate density of 1.5 moose km2 in the Hedmark district. In 2012/13 there were 7-7,500 moose shot during the hunting period of 5th October to Christmas. Hedmark has more licenses issued and animals shot than any other area of Norway. The management of moose in this way allows the retention of healthy population numbers and provides important cultural and social interaction, pest control with regards to overgrazing and a wealth of sustainable, local food (€9million in Hedmark alone).


A very big difference in species management in Norway, as discussed previously in this report, is the movement away from layers of management cascading down from international legislation (as we have in Scotland). In Norway municipality’s and allmening’s (collaborations between land owners) manage transient herbivore and carnivore species through zone management, management plans and voluntary collaboration.

Perhaps significant is that Norway has a continuous tradition of the community hunting out of the necessity for food which we don’t have in Scotland. Anyone can apply for a license and have the same opportunity to hunt as their neighbour. In Scotland large herbivore hunting is seen as more of a country pursuit carried out by the more affluent members of society on heavily managed estates (in direct contrast to Norway’s forests and wild upland areas). The limited numbers of the population regularly involved in deer hunting (rather than wildfowling which is relatively accessible to all) means that as a nation, we are quite disconnected from the traditions associated with “putting your tea on the table”. Peterson et al., 2010 note that “Although hunting may be anachronistic in modern society, certain dimensions of hunting culture may enable society to re-collect a sense of human integration with nature”. This is clear to see in Hedmark and was very insightful and refreshing. That this connection is not so strong in Scotland will perhaps be something to lament. A more instinctive understanding our land, where our food comes from and how this can lead to a respect and stewardship of the landscape, is perhaps the biggest lesson we should take from our short glimpse into Norwegian culture.



Amundsen, H. R., Risbøl, O. & K. Skare (eds.). 2003. A voyage into the past. 10000 years of human and natural history at Gråfjell. – NIKU Thematic Series 7. P 1-112.


Jordhøy,P. (2008).Ancient wild reindeer pitfall trapping systems as indicators for former migration patterns and habitat use in the Dovre region, southern Norway Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Rangifer, 28 (1).


Peterson, M., Hansen, H., Peterson, M., Peterson, T. (2010). How hunting strengthens social awareness of coupled human-natural systems. Wildlife Biology in Practice, Vol 6, (2). P 127-143.

Hønsefuglportalen. (2015). En nasjonal portal for hønsefugl! Available from:

Accessed 09.06.15

The Scottish Archaeological Research Framework. (2015). Wood and other plant material. Available from: Accessed 09.06.15

Arctic fox (Alopex logopus) captive breeding programme

Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park

During our visit to Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park we had an opportunity to view a project which has been captive breeding arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) for release to supplement the existing wild population. Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park was established in 2002 as an expansion of the former Dovrefjell National Park, established in 1974 – the total area is around 1,693 km². In common with other National Parks in Norway the park is unoccupied by people and has no roads or other infrastructure. While people may enjoy the park on foot or on skis, the area is otherwise left for wildlife.

A particular feature of the park is the wild reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) population which is managed through an annual cull – an important part of the local culture. Humans have been the principal predator for the reindeer for thousands of years and the park has archeological evidence of pitfall traps with drift fences, into which the reindeer would be steered and then killed. The National Park Centre has reconstructions of the pit traps used for reindeer hunting (See Figure 1). The Dovrefjell reindeer are part of a refugial population of reindeer of a haplotype (of Beringia origin) which in Europe is found only here and in Rondane National Park.

The park is also known for its population of Musk Ox (Ovibos moschatus), survivors from the end of the last ice age more closely related to sheep and goats than oxen, which went extinct in Europe 9000 years ago but which were reintroduced in the 1930s. Whilst the around 200 Musk oxen are a curiosity of the park and attract many of the visitors, there are no plans to expand their numbers of their range.


Figure 2 Musk oxen – a curiosity from the last ice age

The arctic fox – why run a captive breeding programme?

The arctic fox is smaller than its near relative the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) with a shorter snout and rounded ears. It has two distinct colour types, white, with which it is perhaps normally associated, but also ‘blue’ – which appears more a grey colour (and which stays this colour throughout the winter).

Across its total range the artic fox lives in two distinct broad ecotypes; those which are coastal where the fax has a generalist diet of marine and terrestrial prey and carrion, and inland populations, such as that at Dovrefjell, which rely on lemmings and other small rodents as a food source.

Although coastal populations on average tend to have smaller litter sizes, their generalist diet means that their populations are also inclined to be more stable. By contrast inland arctic fox populations fluctuate in response to the cycles in the population size of small rodents. Historically the inland arctic fox population would have benefits from the 4 year cycle of abundance of lemmings. However this cyclical abundance seems to have largely disappeared, possibly due to climate change. Any changes in abundance of their main prey species makes them vulnerable to local extinction, particularly where population sizes are small or where they face other pressures, such as competition with red foxes.

The total Fennoscandian arctic fox population is estimated to be around 120 adult individuals in fragmented populations. Arctic fox are listed as Critically Endangered in Norway. The initial collapse of the arctic fox population was due to hunting and trapping at the beginning of the 20th century. Both red fox and arctic fox are found in Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park, but whilst the red fox population has thrived and expanded the arctic fox population has struggled to survive. This is despite the fact that arctic foxes have been a protected species since 1930 in this part of Norway, and that red foxes are hunted. The loss of large predators may also have contributed to the rise in numbers of red foxes which have filled the space create by the absence of larger carnivores.

Recent years have seen irregular breeding for reasons that are not completely known. Climate change may be increasing the competition with the growing red fox numbers, which are moving higher in to the mountains to feed and find den sites. Red foxes are larger than the arctic fox and easily out compete it where their territories overlap.

There may also be negative effects of inbreeding in a relatively small, fragmented population, and some changes to the population demographics – perhaps related to differential dispersal of male and females (dispersal tends to be males) leading to differential attrition rates. In fact it is likely that declines are a combination of factors contributing to vulnerability of the remaining population.

The population of arctic fox in Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park has been falling since the 1990s with attrition rates exceeding breeding and recruitment rate. With this in mind a management plan was introduced which includes control of red fox in mountain areas, together with a captive breeding programme to supplement the existing population, in the hope that numbers can be recovered to levels where the wild population can be self-supporting. Genetic mapping of the population is also being undertaken (given the small population size).

The site for the breeding programme is high above the E6 road which cuts between the two halves of the Park. The site has been chosen to be well away from public scrutiny to avoid disturbance. Nine large pens house pairs of breeding animals. Artificial dens are provided in the breeding pens.

Breeding pens

Figure 3 Support building and perimeter fence of the breeding pens

Pairs mate in February- April and produce a single litter of 5 or 6 young in May or early June, to coincide with an abundance of prey species. When we visited the programme the females were close to giving birth, so we kept a considerable distance from the pens to avoid disturbance. The cubs emerge from the dens at about four or five weeks.

The foxes and cubs are fed dog food, and survival rates are high as a result of the plentiful supply of food. Our guide Heidi said that by the time the cubs were released from the captive breeding pens they were fat! Supplementary feed continues to be made available to the young foxes following release, via a feeding station sited near the release pens. Extant wild populations of Arctic fox also make use of this supply, together with Corvids able to get into the steel drums used to conceal the food.

The feeding of the cubs and availability of supplementary food is critical in ensuring low mortality during the period before release and over the first winter – a period of particular vulnerability. Once through the first season, mortality rates drop considerably.

Whilst the breeding programme appears successful in its own terms – it is producing and releasing cubs many of which survive the first winter – it is moot whether the arctic fox will be able to continue to survive in this part of Norway. Further north in its global range arctic fox are present in larger numbers, particularly in coastal areas, but the combined pressures on a small population in these mountains areas may prove too much. Climate change is increasing the competition on the margins of its territory as red foxes move higher into the mountains; a lack of large predators (other than humans) may also mean red fox populations are comparatively high. Climate change is also leading to changes in the availability of prey species of small rodents. A low genetic base threatens population success unless there is a continued programme of supplementation of the population.


Figure 4 Looking for a glimpse of an arctic fox

The distant glimpse of an arctic fox as we stood in the biting cold was thrilling, but also a poignant reminder of the impact of human activity on wild populations. First the hunting of the population to near collapse at the beginning of the last century and now the various and interconnected impacts of climate change. The heroic efforts of the National Park and the arctic fox recovery programme may be insufficient against the tide of climate change.


Forest regeneration, grazing pressures and interventions

Our study trip was based at Evenstad, in Hedmark County near Elverum in central eastern Norway, an area typified by large, long valleys running mainly north-south and steep hillsides rising all around from the valley plain, at an altitude of around 61 degrees north. The valleys have major rivers flowing through them which freeze over in winter, and are swollen by snowmelt in spring, and the large River Glama flowed nearby our base. The hillsides are generally densely forested, predominantly with native Scot’s pine (Pinus sylvestris), Norway spruce (Picea abies) and birch (Betula pendula & B. pubescens), and the agriculture confined to the flat, relatively narrow valley flood plain. Hedmark has 93% woodland cover, and initially it was this fact and the unending forest that contrasted considerably with our experience of Britain, which has only ~12% woodland cover on average. The native forests have clearly been managed for generations and are very productive, and everywhere we travelled there was much evidence of standard forestry operations. These had varied over time, with clear felling practised in the past, but this had created significant problems and had largely ceased. Now, the favoured system was of felling the majority of mature timber trees in a coupe (which varied in size from around half to several hectares), leaving selected trees at regular intervals (usually about 25m) to provide a seed source for regeneration. Aside from the details of this system, the single most striking factor about this was the complete absence of any sort of protection or maintenance of the regeneration, once the felling operation and extraction of timber was complete. There was no fencing (stock or otherwise), no weeding and no individual protection of trees. This was is in stark contrast to establishing trees in Britain, where to restock a felled area, or create new woodland (something that is not practised in this area of Norway with such a high proportion of wood already) the first issue to be resolved is what protection the young trees will require to protect them from browsing animals. It seemed almost inconceivable that this practise would work, and yet it did – or did for most areas.

image21 image22

Figure 5 Newly felled area of Scot’s pine         Figure 6 Site naturally regenerating after forest fire  

                                                                        10 yrs ago

The forests in Norway have one immediate advantage, in that they are still composed mainly of native species – indeed, planting of non-native species is not considered/allowed. This immediately solves several issues, as native trees should seed and regenerate successfully (as they have done for thousands of years), and it reduces the possibility of creating issues with trees either failing to thrive, or becoming invasive, or changing the ecology (especially if the trees are non-native), or introducing pests and diseases. For instance, in Hedmark, Scot’s pine is a major commercial timber species, and much of the accessible forests were being managed on a very long rotation (100 years to produce the final crop) due to very slow growth, but the resulting timber was of very good form and quality. Natural regeneration from the remaining seed trees seemed very good. However, Norway does have a wide range of browsing animals, just as in Britain. Among the larger species are red and roe deer (Cervus elaphus atlanticus & Capreolus capreolus) and moose (Alces alces), plus reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) and even musk oxen (Ovibos moschatus) at higher altitudes. The moose in particular are widespread, tall, lanky animals, capable of clearing large obstacles, and browsing much higher than other deer. Like all browsing animals they have preferences for eating softer broadleaves such as birch where it is available, but they will also happily munch their way through Scot’s pine (which seems particularly tough and unpalatable), and also gnaw bark off smooth-barked trees such as willow.

image24 image23

Figure 7 Moose models, Elverum Forestry Museum.   Figure 8 Captive moose and browsing,

                                                                                    Evenstad University

 In addition, farmers also graze stock (sheep) in the forests in summer. In Britain, such a mix of wild and domestic herbivores, browsing their way around the countryside effectively means that it is virtually impossible to establish trees successfully by either natural regeneration or (more usually) planting without taking substantial precautions in the form of fencing or individual protection of trees, all at considerable expense. Indeed, most of the cost of establishing young trees is in the protection they require, not the cost of the trees themselves. In Norway, most of this is unnecessary – so how is this achieved?

The forests in Hedmark are also home to several large, native predators: wolf (Canis lupus), lynx (Lynx lynx), bear (Ursus arctos) and wolverine (Gulo gulo), the latter of which is a member of the badger family with ferocious reputation, able to kill prey larger than itself. All of these animals are rarely seen, but clearly present as we were shown the remains of a wolf kill from the winter time, only a few miles from our base in Evenstad and right next to a forest track which had been used by ski-ers. These predators do not always stick to wild prey, of course, and a compensation scheme is in place to re-imburse farmers for livestock killed. There is also a system for inspecting livestock kills to determine just what has killed the beast, as obviously some animals die from accidents or natural causes anyway.   This in turn gives an indication exactly what, where, and how many predators are present in the locality. Of course, the presence of large predators in Norway contrasts sharply with the situation in Britain, where all large predators (lynx, bear and lastly, wolf) were wiped out some centuries ago, leaving just the fox and larger birds of prey as the top predator, apart from man. The largest herbivores in Britain, deer (of several species, both native and non-native) are therefore not normally prey for any other wild animal in Britain.

image25 image26

Fig 9 Domestic stock – sheep, Folldal     Figure 10 Moose heads, the result of hunting,

Overall, the forests in Norway are far closer to a natural ecosystem than anything in Britain, with native trees, a wide range of native herbivores, a low density of domestic stock, and the presence of native predators, including the large species able to prey on large herbivores. As well as this, the Norwegians also still have a widespread tradition of hunting and consuming wild food.   Their hunting is carefully planned and regulated, with assessments of number of animals, quotas for hunting and reporting mechanisms so that that actual numbers killed are recorded – and can be adjusted each year.

image28 image27

Figure 11 a and b Remains of a moose, killed by wolves in winter, forest at Evenstad.

There are national targets for desirable densities of these large predators, which are then broken down into local, county targets, one of which is the target for the number of breeding litters. The example figures given (Folldal Mine Museum) indicate that nationally the target is for 65 Lynx, 39 wolverine, 15 bear and 3 wolf litters annually. The figures for Hedmark County are 10 lynx, 5 wolverine, 3 bear and 3 wolf (shared with a neighbouring county). This does mean that various issues can be tackled – in theory at least. Excessive browsing, causing excessive damage to regenerating trees for instance, could be reduced by culling the numbers of herbivores. Issues with predators, for instance causing in unacceptable losses of domestic stock, or conflicts with humans resulting in injury could be dealt with. There appear to be a far more robust and practical attitude to the need – even desirability – for hunting wild game. Moose and reindeer both featured frequently on our menu!

image29  image30

Fig 12 Moose stew                                       Fig 13 Lichen, as ground flora

Problems can still arise of course when neighbouring landowners have different needs, and because of different types of land have different pressures. So, for instance, the moose will avoid land covered in deep snow in winter as they will be unable to find food, and they will over-winter in areas with less snow and better browsing. However, they will then disperse as the snows melts and range more widely. This could easily result in one landowner playing host to high concentrations of moose in winter (maybe one winter, maybe every winter depending on the snow) and suffering concentrated damage – whilst not having the benefit of the moose for the rest of the hunting season. Hence one landowner might want to reduce moose numbers to a more acceptable ‘winter’ level, but their neighbours will not. Various solutions are being trialled to try to resolve these issues. One is supplementary feeding (with silage bales) in set areas in the forest. These obviously produce an artificial concentration of moose (which is unusual in itself as they tend to be solitary beasts), resulting in changes in the area including very heavy browsing of the vegetation here, well-trodden paths to/from the feeding area, a substantial amount of dung and urine which will fertilise the area too, and subsequently produce subtle changes to the vegetation (nettles at one site, which we didn’t see elsewhere).   Given that the forests are large, the ‘sacrifice’ of an area to feeding might be acceptable. The effects weren’t quite always as expected though and for unknown reasons (which could make a separate study) the moose didn’t all feed equally. Whilst some took full advantage of the easy meal of silage and grew rather fat (which is again unusual for moose in winter), others remained skinny – despite both silage and nearby Scot’s pine to browse being available. Other solutions being trialled included providing a greater quantity of natural browse in winter by mowing forest track sides, or fertilising the same areas to provide more luxuriant growth, or cutting the tops off young pine in the area to make them bush out, or even simply propping up the brash (waste tops of the trees) left after a felling operation so that it was visible and available above the snow for browsing. All of these activities were designed to produce more low-growing browse for the animals in winter and studies were taking place to assess the effects of these and assess how much browse the moose require.

image32 image31

Fig 14 Silage as supplementary feeding for moose, resulting in a concentration of dung in the area.

Finally, an area had also been fenced, using deer fencing mesh, but raising it to a top height of around 8ft (about 2.5m) to prevent moose jumping over it, and leaving a gap of about 2ft (0.5m) under the bottom for smaller mammals to cross the fence without damaging it. It was felt that the moose, on their stilt-like legs, would be unlikely to attempt to crawl underneath and the gap at the bottom would be hidden by snow in winter anyway, when they would most likely be in search of food.


Fig 15 Scot’s pine tops left from a felling operation, partially browsed by moose.

The details of working any forestry system based on natural regeneration, and populations of herbivores and associated carnivores is bound to be very specific to the environment, and also change with time. It will also depend on historical patterns, cultural altitudes and perceptions. However, the basics were startling and it was clearly working, without the need for extensive intervention and enormous expense of tree planting, protection and follow-up maintenance. The main factor seemed to be in achieving a balance between the amount of browsing occurring by herbivores, which was being controlled by keeping number of herbivores to acceptable levels either through natural processes, including predation by carnivores, or culling by hunting. In Britain, killing large herbivores (deer) by carnivores doesn’t happen as they simply aren’t present, and apart from a very, very few remote parts of the country this is unlikely to be an option as farming with livestock is so widespread, and the country is much more densely populated. The only option then is to controlling the populations of herbivores by culling. This is of course practised in Britain, but not on the same scale or with the same acceptance as in Norway. In some parts of the country this leads to the same conflicts as experienced in some parts of Norway, where one landowner suffers a disproportionate amount of damage (to them) but does not receive (or desire) the benefit of having these numbers of beasts. However, the contrast in Britain is worse, because whereas in Norway most landowners are both foresters and farmers, in Britain landowners are often only one or the other – and have have very different attitudes to the same concentration and amount of browsing. Added to this is the fact that whereas in Norway hunting is a widespread, acceptable activity, carried out by a wide variety of people, in Britain it is largely a minority activity and more confined to particular groups or seen as unacceptable or even controversial by significant sections of society. Again, in Norway, eating wild, hunted animals is perfectly acceptable and ordinary menus feature meat from wild moose and reindeer.

Overall, the conclusion has to be that Norway has managed to retain a much more natural system and approach to wildlife management, and has been able to develop and run this sustainably with productive forestry and agriculture. This produces vast quantities of good quality forest products requiring low inputs for restocking, and at the same time allows domestic stock to graze, and a wide range of wild animals to co-exist there. The Norwegians managing populations of all of these, and resolve issues as they arise with an assumption that the system will broadly speaking remain the same i.e. not by eradicating certain species.

Meanwhile, in Britain, all land managers and in particularly woodland and forest managers are locked into a system which assumes that there is generally a need to plant, and certainly to protect and carry out frequent maintenance on the majority of young trees in order to successfully re-establish or create woodland – with all the associated high costs. This is of course, simply one of the most obvious effects and costs to the land owner and the environment, but the artificially high levels of browsing also affect all other vegetation, which isn’t regularly assessed. Deer populations in Britain are currently increasing, and so the situation is unlikely to change in Britain the short term.

All photographs by Heather Swift. Many thanks to Marius Kjønsberg, of Høgskolen i Hedmark (Hedmark University) for organising the numerous lectures and tours which provide most of the background information for this report, as well as an most informative and enjoyable visit to Evenstad, Norway.


Additional forestry information on: web site for County Department of Agriculture and Forestry July 2009.

Wildlife statistics from: Folldal Mine Foundation Nasjonalparkriket for Norwegian Forestry Museum, Elverum


Following recent publicity about the possibility of lynx reintroduction in the UK, we were really interested to find out more about lynx in Scandinavia. Numbers have increased in recent years and there are estimated to be around 300 lynx in Norway with over 1000 in both Sweden and Finland. We weren’t lucky enough to see a lynx on the trip, and sightings of these shy solitary animals are rare.

Norway now has all the four large native predators lynx, wolverine, brown bear and wolf. On our visit to Hedmark county which has populations of all these species we heard about the conflict that the return of these species creates when they come into contact with people. There were three main issues highlighted, fear for personal safety, concern for livestock and pets and competition for hunters. The system of sheep free ranging in the forests during summer months leaves them at risk from predation. Lynx mainly hunt roe deer as the preferred prey, but take sheep when they come into contact with them (Odden J et al. 2013).

Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx)This species is classified as Vulnerable on the Norwegian Red List 2010, It is classified as Least concern on the 2008 IUCN red list (Breitenmoser et al. 2008). The species has a wide distribution across Europe and into Asia, they are mainly a forest animal that prey on deer, but in areas of Russia and Siberia mountain hares can make up most of the diet.


Figure 16 Lynx at Forestry museum, Elverum

In Norway a bounty on lynx was introduced in 1846 and continued until 1980. From the 1960s the population of lynx gradually increased, estimates of numbers were based on the number of animals that were shot. Lynx briefly received full protection in 1992 and then hunting quotas were set from 1994. Since 1996 a new method of estimating the size of the population has been used (Linnell et al. 2010). This method involves estimating the numbers of family groups by recording tracks in the snow from October to February. Records are provided by hunters, wardens and the public and verified by wardens from the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate (SNO). The number of family groups has varied from around 50 to around 100 in since 1997.

Each year quotas are set for the Lynx hunting season which runs from February 1st until the 31st of March. For example for 2015 the national quota was set at 87 animals with a maximum of 34 adult females, the hunting stops once either of these thresholds is reached. Figures from Norwegian Environment Agency (Miljodirektoratet). The total number shot this year during the season was 74. In the same period 6 were shot in Sweden. Outside the hunting season, ‘problem’ animals are dealt with by staff from SNO.

The country is divided into 8 areas for predator control and quotas are set at a local level by a regional predator board.

Table of quota for Lynx hunt in 2015

Area Quota Adult female quota
1 – Western Norway unlimited hunt
2 – Southern Norway 35 15
3 – Oppland 9 3
  4 – Oslo / Akershus / Østfold 2 1
  5 – Hedmark 0 0
  6 – Central Norway 25 7
  7 – Nordland 6 3
  8 – Troms and Finnmark 10 5
Total 87 34


Figure 17 Map to show Regions for predator control boards.

Lynx are solitary apart from in the breeding season. They are highly territorial and can cover long distances just in one night to patrol their territory. Studies using radio and GPS collars have shown that they can travel 35km in one night. Territory sizes vary, and are smaller where there is an abundance of roe deer. Studies undertaken in Scandinavia between 1994 and 2011 showed that female home ranges were on average smaller than males – 500 km2 compared to 1000 km2 (McNutt), and that both were very variable with average annual ranges between 213 and 2451 km2. This work was undertaken as part of the ScandLynx project – an important collaboration on Lynx data across Scandinavia:

It was really interesting to find out more about lynx in Norwaty and the approach to management of carnivores though hunting quotas and culling. How does all this relate to our situation in the UK where we have a much higher population density of people and sheep?

Predation on sheep in Norway is significant, sheep graze in the forest in small numbers as compared to other European countries where sheep are mainly in open pastures and the greatest risk from predation is close to the forest edges (Hetherington 2008). Norway has about 2.5 million sheep, in Scotland there are about 6.5million. Since 1994 compensation has been paid for lynx predation on between 6,000 and 10,000 sheep each year.

From the evidence of bones found at Kinsey Cave in the Yorkshire Dales and cultural evidence it is thought that Lynx survived in Northern Britain until the middle ages, and that our current climate could be suitable for this species. (Hetherington)

A lynx reintroduction is being considered in the UK for three main reasons:

1) An iconic species that was once part of our ecosystem here and it is the ‘right thing to do’.

2) An established population would restore the predator prey dynamics that are currently lacking and change the behaviour of key prey species like roe deer.

3) It could be of benefit to wildlife tourism business as seen in example like the beaver trial putting Knapdale ‘on the map’ for visitors.

For me the most impressive thing about our trip to Norway was the scale of the amount of forest. There was loads of fantastic habitat for lynx and everything else. If reintroduction is on the agenda for the UK we all need to work harder to increase forest cover and restore our degraded ecosystems. Any reintroduction would be expensive and would need to have wide support. I believe it is possible only if a pragmatic approach is taken with the knowledge that these animals may have to be controlled in the future. It is difficult to compare the situation of the UK with other countries in Europe where lynx have been reintroduced or have returned. The only way to test what would happen would be in a real situation. There are many discussions to be had and issues to resolve, particularly in the light of the amount of controversy that surrounds birds of prey and the potential for illegal persecution. I hope that the future of the UK will be wilder and more exciting, but in the meantime I hope to return to Scandinavia soon.

Recent quotes in the UK press on lynx reintroduction:

“The lynx is one of the most enigmatic, beautiful cats on the planet, the British countryside is dying and lynx will bring it back to life.” Dr Paul O’Donoghue Lynx UK Trust

“We would be concerned about the reintroduction due to its high cost and failure risk. We believe budgets are better focused on developing existing biodiversity.” National Farmers Union

“It would massively enhance the experience of being outdoors if some of these animals were reintroduced, even if you don’t see them, just knowing they are there enhances our sense of wildness.” Stuart Brookes, John Muir Trust


The 2010 Norwegian red list for species.

Breitenmoser, U., Mallon, D.P., von Arx, M. & Breitenmoser-Wursten, C. 2008. Lynx lynx. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.1. <>. Downloaded on 11 June 2015.

Odden J, Nilsen EB, Linnell JDC (2013) Density of Wild Prey Modulates Lynx Kill Rates on Free-Ranging Domestic Sheep. PLoS ONE 8(11): e79261. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079261

Direktoratet for Naturforvaltning, 2008 Gaupe, jerv, bjørn,ulv og kongeørn– vårt ansvar.

 John D. C. Linnell, Henrik Broseth, John Odden, Erlend Birkeland Nilsen (2010) Sustainably Harvesting a Large Carnivore? Development of Eurasian Lynx Populations in Norway During 160 Years of Shifting Policy. Environmental Management DOI 10.1007/s00267-010-9455-9

Hetherington D 2008 The history of the Eurasian Lynx in Britain and the potential for its reintroduction. British Wildlife Vol 20 2 p 77-86.

McNutt H.2012 Beyond Borders: Effect of home range size on movement and intra-sexual overlap in Lynx in Scandinavia. MSc Thesis


Woodland Grouse: Monitoring & Research

Black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) and capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) are both red-listed bird species of high conservation concern in the UK. Capercaillie was once extinct in the UK but re-established following the reintroduction of Swedish birds in the 1830’s. Both species have a wide ranging distribution across northern and eastern Europe and occupy forest habitats of varying types across their range. The population estimates are 0.76-1 million and 2.5-3.2 million breeding pairs in Europe for capercaillie and black grouse respectively (Birdlife International, 2004). In the UK the population is recorded in lekking males with the most recent estimates of approximately 1200 in 2009/10 for capercaillie and 5000 in 2005 for black grouse in Scotland. As a comparison, in Norway during the 2013/14 hunting season 7, 400 capercaillie and 14, 620 black grouse were hunted (Statistics Norway, 2014). Although both species are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Redlist long term population declines have been noticed across their global range and in the UK they have both undergone significant declines in recent years.


Figure 18 Female capercaillie in Hedmark, Norway 2015. (Photo: Doug Shapley)

 In the UK both species are offered protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1959) and capercaillie is afforded special protection under the EC Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) and through a suite of Special Protection Areas (SPA’s) designated for this species. Norway is outwith the EU and therefore is not legislated by the EC Birds Directive, however both species are protected by the Norwegian Wildlife Act (1981) which states ‘Wildlife and the habitats of wildlife shall be managed in such a way that the productivity of nature and the diversity of species be preserved’. Both black grouse and capercaillie are a popular game species in Norway which are regularly hunted during the open season between August and December. It is within the interest of the landowner to ensure that the number harvested is sustainable, as hunting is a popular recreational activity and provides a source of income and a food source.

Due to the conservation status of these species in the UK there is much interest in completing population monitoring. At a national level surveys are completed roughly every ten years but these are costly to complete and require substantial resource. However, between these surveys there are a number of initiatives which complete annual monitoring of both black grouse and capercaillie. Study Groups, consisting of landowners, NGO’s, government bodies and volunteers, across Scotland, Northern England and Wales complete lek counts to get annual estimates of local populations. In some areas study groups have been monitoring the same areas for over 20 years and annual monitoring covers roughly 40% of the 1988 breeding range of black grouse in Scotland. There is also some enthusiasm to co-ordinate this annual black grouse monitoring at a national level through the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) initiatives.

Impressively in Norway there is an existing co-operation of annual monitoring of grouse over much of the country. The Hønsefugl Portalen project was established in 2013 as a trial for a national monitoring scheme of grouse; black grouse, capercaillie, ptarmigan and red grouse /willow ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus). The partnership includes NINA (Norwegian Institute for Nature Research), FeFo (a landowner enterprise in Finnmark, Northern Norway), Statskog (State landowner), Miljødirektoratet (Norwegian Environement Agency), HINT (Nordtrondelag University), Norges Fjellstyresamband (Norwegian Mountain Board who administer hunting rights on crown land) and Hedmark University.


Honsefugl Portalen website :

The survey methodology is to walk line transects in suitable habitat to complete distance sampling across areas of land during August. This is completed either early in the morning or at dusk using pointing dogs and walking a straight line and recording all species detected and the distance they were first recorded from the line transect. By completing enough transects (a minimum of 40 observations/ 70km in each area) it is then possible to provide a density estimate of grouse for a given area. Each observation also includes a record of which species of grouse is observed and the number of chicks present. This allows productivity estimates (chicks per hen) to be calculated. The results can then be used to show the breeding success change between years and regions and can inform hunters the numbers that can be harvested sustainably.

The surveys are completed by staff from the partner organisations, land managers, public bodies and local hunters. The partnership also provides training courses for those wanting to be involved and the survey itself allows hunters the opportunity to train their dogs. For an initial small fee of 5000NOK (approx £410) the partnership also offers advice to the landowner on how to design survey areas to ensure that the data is as representative as possible across an ownership boundary. Once a design has been chosen, and transects have been selected, they are entered onto an online portal where people can access them in future years to see which areas require survey. The same transects are repeated each year for comparison. Following completion of the survey, the records are all entered into online portal which has various levels of administration, from access to the whole dataset for institutions, to field personnel who have a registered account to input data and download transects. Once all data has been collected it is then publicly available at a regional level for all to access and Hedmark University provide more detailed analysis to individual landowners. Despite being a relatively new project there have been very few technical problems and the project has provided an extensive dataset. It is also hoped that there will be a possibility to enter historic data into the database. In 2014, the survey coverage included 160 land boundaries in 69 municipalities with a total of 2055 lines/6347km being sampled and a total of 4349 individual observations. Further information can be found here:

Along with the development of large scale population monitoring, Hedmark University are also completing detailed research into nest predation of woodland grouse. Torfinn Jahren is currently undertaking his PhD research aimed at further understanding the reasons for declines in black grouse and capercaillie. A part of this work is to review the long term data available to establish the population trends in these species in which declines across Western Europe have been noticed over the last 60-70 years. Previous research has provided evidence that reproductive success is the most important factor in their decline. A number of factors have been identified as influencing breeding success in woodland grouse including habitat fragmentation, rainfall in June and predation during the incubation period. There is also a complex interaction between these factors which can vary geographically across their range. The main focus of Torfinns study is to complete nest monitoring using camera surveillance. Between 2009-15 over 430 nest sites have been found, mostly using pointing dogs but also from records sent in by forestry workers, land managers and the general public. Following the discovery of a nest Torfinn then places a camouflaged camera trap, set to take a picture every 7 seconds, within close proximity to the nest to record what happens over the incubation period. A temperature sensor is also placed in the nest to monitor activity. As well as monitoring the active nest a number of control sites are used where hen and quail eggs are placed in artificial nests to compare to the predation rates of active nests against experimental control sites.

 image39 image38

 Figure 19 a Capercaillie nest site under brash pile.     Figure 19 b Photo 2: Artificial nest site (control) with hen eggs and nest camera (Photos: Doug Shapley)


Figure 20 Torfinn Jahren, PhD Student at Hedmark University, setting up nest monitoring equipment (Photo: Doug Shapley).

 The preliminary findings from the camera traps have shown that predation has been the main cause of nest failures. The eggs, chicks and adult bird all have the potential to be predated by a range of species including; red fox, pine marten, badger, wolverine, corvids, golden eagle, goshawk and other species. The two main predators identified in this study are red fox and pine marten. Looking further at the information it has been possible to identify some patterns including 1) a higher abundance of pine marten results in a higher chance of nest failure and 2) predation by foxes increases with proximity to tracks and roads. The predation rates can also be linked to the availability of alternative prey, such as voles and lemmings, and in times when the rodent population is low, and consequently there is less food available, then there is a greater chance of woodland grouse nests being predated. This is in line with previous studies which support an ‘alternative prey hypothesis’ (Wegge and Storaas, 1990). Research into nest predation in Scotland has also found some similar results. A nest monitoring study at Abernethy National Nature Reserve in the Cairngorms used similar surveillance techniques to monitor nest sites. This study found that pine marten were the main predator of nests at this site; however it was also found that nest sites with camera surveillance were more likely to be predated than nests without cameras (Summers et al., 2009). Although predation is an important factor in the breeding success of capercaillie further study needs to be completed to understand the interactions between predator and prey and their habitats in Scotland order to inform conservation management. The predator-prey dynamics are complex can vary between sites and are influenced by large scale variables such as fragmentation and habitat availability.

Final thoughts

Hunting and wildlife management are widespread in Norway compared to the UK where hunting is less widespread, with less availability and variety, and where the societal attitudes towards shooting are more polarised. Capercaillie and black grouse are popular small game species in Norway that are hunted annually with 7,400 and 14, 620 hunted in the 2013-14 season respectively (Statistics Norway, 2014). For this reason there is wide interest in monitoring these species to inform wildlife management and harvesting potential.

Both black grouse and capercaillie are widespread species in Norway. The forest habitat which they require is much more continuous and extensive than is currently present in Scotland. The decline of both species in the UK has been as a result of various factors but historical modification and reduction of suitable woodland habitat is a key driver. One factor which is strikingly apparent in Norway is that much of the productive forestry also provides suitable habitat for woodland grouse. This is compared to the limited biodiversity value of some commercial forestry in the UK. This is because the forested land is more often managed in a way that provides multiple benefits for wildlife and people. The forest is managed as a timber resource, agricultural land and as a hunting resource. In the UK commercial conifer forestry is often planted at such at density which inhibits access for wildlife and people alike and is primarily managed with timber production as the main focus. This can have wide ranging landscape effects by altering habitat networks and ecological communities. The justification for this is the quick financial returns and the high risk of windblow limits which silvicultural practises can be used. In the UK the maturation of forest plantations has been seen to have a negative consequence for black grouse following maturity when ground vegetation becomes shaded out (Pearce-Higgins et al., 2007). This is not common place in Norway where the main method of restocking forests is through natural regeneration and where the commercial density of trees is lower. In general, the ground vegetation within forests in Norway has not been subject to the same intensive alteration, either agricultural or forestry, as has been apparent in the UK. Both black grouse and capercaillie require a mosaic of ground vegetation species including heather and blaeberry for foraging and nesting. In many areas of the black grouse and capercaillie present range in the UK the ground vegetation required is at a sub-optimal level. For this reason conservation effort in the UK focuses on restoration of forest and moorland habitat mosaics.

Predation of species of conservation concern is a complex issue. Both the capercaillie and pine marten are protected species in the UK. The capercaillie has suffered long term declines across its range and the pine marten is just beginning to re-colonise parts of its former range. This is following extensive persecution of predatory mammals that took place in the 19th and early 20th century in an attempt to increase numbers of deer and grouse available for sport shooting (Summers et al., 2009). Further work needs to be done to understand the interactions between capercaillie, pine marten, other predators and habitats both in the UK and across their range. A large spatial and temporal scale must be considered in these studies as habitats and ecological interactions have changed considerably over time. These species have co-existed for thousands of years and therefore there is a natural balance which must be considered when trying to meet the conservation needs of both charismatic species.


BirdLife International (2004). Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Statistics Norway (2014) Small game and roe deer hunting, 2013/14, Available from <>

Pearce-Higgins J.W., Grant M.C., Robinson M.C. and Haysom S.L. (2007) The role of forest maturation in causing the decline of black grouse, Ibis, Vol 149, pgs 143-155.

Summers R.W., Willi J. and Selvidge J. (2009) Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus Nest Loss and Attendance at Abernethy Forest, Scotland, Wildlife Biology, vol 15, pgs 319-327

Wegge P. and Storaas T. (1990) Nest loss in capercaillie and black grouse in relation to the small rodent cycle in southeast Norway. Oecologia, Vol 82, pgs 527-530

Appendix 1 – Species List


This list is composed simply of some of the plants seen and identified by myself and Liz Auty, with help from others within our group and especially our various local guides. It is necessarily limited by the amount of time we had available to study the areas we visited, and our own knowledge. In particular, we could not identify the lower plants such as mosses and lichens species, which were very numerous and plentiful. (Heather Swift)

Common name Latin name Location seen
Herb Paris Paris quadrifolia Lowland woods, shady damp areas
May lily Maianthemum bifolium      “                             “
Red campion Silene dioica      “                             “
Wood anemone Anemone nemorosa      “                             “
Wood sorrel Oxalis acetosella      “                             “
Marsh marigold (aka Kingcups) Caltha palustris      “                             “
Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria      “                             “
Alternate-leaved golden saxifrage Chrysosplenium alternifolium Marshy area
Horsetails Equisetum sps.          “
Lady’s mantle Alchemilla vulgaris
Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus Mixed forest, mid altitude
Cowberry Vaccinium vitis-idaea      “                       “
Heather Calluna vulgaris      “                       “
Raspberry Rubus idaeus      “                       “
Rosebay willowherb Epilobium angustifolium      “                       “
Bog pimpernel Anagallis tenella      “                       “
Mosses Sphagnum sps., plus many others Mid to high altitude.   Frequent
Lichens Cladina stellaris, plus many, many others Mid to high altitude.   Often dominant at higher altitude
Alpine lady’s mantle Alchemilla alpina
Bearberry Arctostaphylos uva-ursi High mountains, above tree line
Clubmoss Unknown species      “
Lousewort, upright/red-rattle Pedicularis flammea      “
Mountain azalea Loiseleuria procumbens      “
Pale pasque flower Pulsatilla vernalis      “
Purple saxifrage Saxifraga oppositifolia      “
Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara Disturbed ground
Dandelion Taraxacum sps. Various
Nettle Urtica dioica Feeding area for moose in forest


(Total 73 species) Doug Shapley




Willow warbler

Great tit

Blue Tit




Wood pigeon


Pied Wagtail

House sparrow

Common Gull

Hooded Crow












Spotted flycatcher

House Martin

Yellow wagtail

Whooper swan

Feral pigeon

Common Sandpiper





Pied flycatcher

Jay (calling only)


Great spotted woodpecker


Meadow pipit

Arctic Tern

Black headed gull

Tree sparrow


Canada goose


Black woodpecker

Curlew (calling)

Golden plover



Black throated diver









Mistle thrush

Tufted duck

Lesser Whitethroat


Grey wagtail

Reed bunting






Other species seen


Common Name Latin Name Norwegian Name
Arctic Fox (at breeding station) Alopex lagopus Fjellrev
Beaver (Signs) Caster fiber Bever
Eurasian Elk Alces alces Elg
Mountain Hare Lepus timidus Hare
Musk Ox Ovibos moschatus Moskus
Red Fox Vulpes vulpes Rødrev
Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris Ekorn
Roe deer Capreolus capreolus Rådyr
Remains of Elk killed by Wolf Canis lupus Ulv


Small Blue Cupido minimus
Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi

Appendix 2 Forestry in Norway

Norway has around 38% forest cover (12 million hectares) compared to 18% for Scotland (1.4 million hectares) and 13% (3.15 million hectares) for the UK as a whole. Of the total forest area of Norway around 50% is productive forest, although total production from this forest area is only around 50% of total annual increment[1]. Whilst in the UK more than 90% of production is based on non-native conifer species, Norwegian forestry is centred around three native species – Norway spruce (Picea abies) 47%, Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) 33% and Birch (Betula pendula) 18%.

Whilst a third of the forest area of Scotland in owned by Forestry Commission Scotland, just 12% of Norwegian forests are owned by the state and municipalities, with 80% of the forest area in individual ownership. Due to the Act of Allodial Rights, the first born child has the first option on a property if it is offered for sale, with that right passing to the next in line and so on through the family. As a result almost all farm and forest holdings stay in the family.

A few things are striking about forestry in Hedmark County in Norway compared to Scotland. Firstly the system is based on natural regeneration, with relatively small felling coups and scattered mature seed trees. Growth is slow with rotation lengths typically around 100 years. Secondly the total lack of fences, despite the presence of moose and deer. The strong tradition of hunting, with quotas for numbers of animal shot, maintains levels of browsing damage sufficiently low to ensure often prolific regeneration. Only in the wintering grounds of moose, in lower forest areas, can significant levels of moose damage to regeneration be seen.


Figure 21 Felling coupe with seed trees.

[1] Nordic Family Forestry

  Tree list
(Heather Swift)
Common name Latin name Location seen
Norway spruce Picea abies All altitudes.  Often dominant
Scot’s pine Pinus sylvestris All altitudes.  Often dominant
Downy birch Betula pubescens All altitudes.
Silver birch Betula pendula All altitudes.  Abundant
Alder Alnus sp Lowland woods
Ash Fraxinus excelsior Lowland woods
Aspen Populus tremula Lowland woods
Bird cherry Prunus padus Lowland woods
Rowan Sorbus aucuparia Lowland woods
Dwarf birch Betula nana High altitude
Juniper Juniperus communis High altitude
Willow Salix sps Various species, all locations

Blog Post Location

Recent Posts