The partridge in Lower Saxony

Once widespread - now rare

Few bird species in Lower Saxony have suffered such a severe decline in numbers as the partridge. The populations have decreased by about 95 % in the last decades and the former common bird is also listed as "highly endangered" on the Red List throughout Germany. We support the Biologische Schutzgemeinschaft Göttingen in their efforts to successfully re-spread this bird.


The causes of the decline are known: The industrialisation of agriculture causes a loss of heterogeneity in the landscape, poisons the environment with pesticides and worsens the partridge habitat by fertilising and reducing the distance between rows. The chicks are most affected. According to studies, the survival rate of chicks has increasingly deteriorated in recent decades. There is a lack of sufficient insect supply and light vegetation for the chicks to dry quickly. In addition, the remaining partridge pairs are increasingly isolated, so that the low reproduction is no longer sufficient to keep the population stable.

The project

The project, co-financed by MHS, has been carried out in cooperation with the Biological Protection Association Göttingen and the Centre for Nature Conservation at the University of Göttingen. The main objective was to create suitable areas for chick rearing. With the support of the Lower Saxony Agricultural and Environmental Programme NAU and with the involvement of many willing farmers, strips of flowers were planted in which the partridge could find both food and suitable vegetation for the chicks to survive. The fallowing of current arable land is also a possibility.  Our long-term goal is to gain 300 ha of partridge habitats in order to drastically reduce the probability of extinction. These habitat areas should initially be located around the still existing occurrences and in the longer term result in a network over large parts of the district. 

From the project work so far, a guideline has been developed which is available to interested parties with recommendations for partridge protection. Also a film about the efforts for the protection of the meadow breeders was developed and is to serve in the context of the public work other protection initiatives for information and suggestion.

Follow-up activities

While in the whole of Lower Saxony the population has collapsed by half again in the last few years, the number of partridges in the district of Göttingen has been stabilized. With the agri-environmental measure "Blühstreifen" (flower strips), which are managed according to the needs of the fowl, new habitats have been created for the birds. A long-term telemetry study accompanied this project.

In 2016, the Biologische Schutzgemeinschaft Göttingen was also able to launch a new project "Qualification of actors to initiate regional partridge protection projects in Lower Saxony".