What should the habitat of capercaillie look like and how to re-create it?
A few decades ago capercaillie was abundant in relatively open mature forests on ridges of Stojna, Velika and Goteniška gora and Kočevski rog. In 1980 when the hunt on capercaillie was banned, some 40 capercaillie leks were still active.
There are several reasons for a rapid decline of this species in Kočevsko. Most important were changes in forest use and management which included: decrease of proportion of mature forest stands, depletion of fruit-bearing herbs in the undergrowth (deer), increase of the population of ground nest predators, increased disturbance due to tourism and recreation and also climate change.
What are the habitat requirements of capercaillie and how to re-create its habitat?
On Tuesday, 20.10.2015, we tried to find answers to these questions with a group of foresters employed at Slovenia Forest Service, Kočevje at a field workshop. Foresters shape the development of forests and their knowledge of species habitat requirements is crucial for implementation of forestry practices for improvement of capercaillie habitat.
Following an introduction on capercaillie current problematic situation and habitat requirements (food sources, quiet zones, absence of predators) we inspected a wide area of Debeli vrh (second highest hill in Kočevsko, 1255m above sea level), which is one of the most suitable habitats for capercaillie in this area.
We examined foreseen felling plan for compartment 110 in GGE Grčarice and compartment 4 in GGE Draga. We compared this with compartment 3 in GGE Draga after felling was carried out. A field examination with simultaneous discussion enabled us practical learning and sharing of experience for improved felling plans to re-create suitable capercaillie habitat within the project area.