Green groups denounce 'flawed' French plan to save emblematic forest bird

Environmental groups in France have filed a court challenge against plans to reintroduce the threatened western capercaillie, a type of wood grouse, to the Vosges mountains. The bird is emblematic of the region but has been all but wiped out because of climate change and growing tourism.

Five NGOs said they had lodged an appeal against the government’s repopulation project, arguing that the underlying issues that first caused the bird’s disappearance remain unchanged.

Of particular concern were ongoing plans to develop tourism, local ecosystem challenges and a failure to manage game animals that eat the capercaillies’ natural food sources, such as blueberries.

“While we're obviously not opposed to bringing back the capercaillie, reintroducing a wild species to an area that it recently disappeared from due to habitat degradation poses significant concerns,” said Dominique Humbert, president of SOS Massif des Vosges, one of the NGOs.

Iconic forest birds

Western capercaillies are known for their striking appearance, with the iridescent blue and green males almost twice the size of the females.

They’re iconic birds in European forests, where they play a significant role in maintaining woodland ecosystems.

France’s repopulation plan involves capturing capercaillies of the same genetic strain in Norway, where the birds’ population exceeds 200,000, and releasing them locally.

Read more on RFI English

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