The Whisky company, The Famous Grouse, has announced that its partnership with the RSPB, to help stem the decline of the endangered black grouse, is to be extended for a further three years.
Its latest donation of £150,000 means that the company has given £450,000 to the RSPB since the tie-up was first announced in 2008.
Money is raised through sales of The Black Grouse whisky.
Gerry O’Donnell, director of The Famous Grouse, said: “We’re well aware conservation projects of this nature take time and commitment. By extending our partnership with the RSPB we will be able to continue the fantastic work to ensure we save this rare and magnificent bird.”
The new money will be used to enable further investment in four RSPB reserves — Inversnaid and Corrimony in Scotland, Lake Vyrnwy in Wales, and Geltsdale in England — as well as in two new reserves in Scotland, Abernethy and Wood of Cree.
A dedicated Blackgrouse officer will be appointed to work in each area.
The black grouse has suffered steady declines in the past 40 years, with populations falling from an estimated 25,000 displaying males in 1970 to just 5,000 in 2005.
Earlier this year, Shooting Times magazine reported the bird was facing imminent extinction in north-west Northumberland.
However, work done by conservation groups such as the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), including a successful translocation trial in the Yorkshire Dales, has boosted the bird’s population overall.
A spokeswoman for the GWCT in Scotland said: “We’re very glad the money being raised through this joint initiative is being ploughed back into black grouse research, especially as the GWCT is a joint Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) leader alongside the RSPB.”