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Positive trend for the Ural owl

Target

1.2 No species or habitat types will become extinct or be lost, and the status of threatened and near-threatened species and habitat types will be improved.

Indicator

Status of specific threatened species
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Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

The Ural owl is classified as vulnerable in the 2010 Norwegian Red List for Species, since there is only a very small breeding population restricted to Hedmark county. Ural owls are occasionally observed elsewhere in Norway, but no breeding has been recorded outside Hedmark since 1965. 

The Ural owl is heavily dependent on natural holes in large hollow or broken-off trees, including chimney-like tree stumps. Since 1965, only four such trees in Norway have been found in use as nest sites for Ural owls. All of them were large dead aspens. Three of them have now blown down, and the fourth is surrounded by young trees and is no longer accessible. There is an acute lack of natural nest sites in managed forests, and hardly any new ones are being formed.

Since 2000, about 250 specially designed Ural owl nest boxes have been erected in forested areas of Hedmark, and a further 100 across the border in Sweden. There has been a positive trend in the Ural owl population on both sides of the border in this period. In 2014, when rodent populations reached a peak, 51 breeding pairs were registered using these nest boxes, 14 in Norway and the rest in Sweden.

Restrictions on forestry operations and other conservation measures within the forestry sector are needed to maintain a Norwegian breeding population of the Ural owl. It is very important to monitor and maintain the owl nest boxes. Provided that these steps are taken, there is every reason to believe that this charismatic species will continue to breed in Norway’s forests.