Royal Forestry Society study highlights significant damage to woodlands from grey squirrels.

squirrelThe Royal Forestry Society is calling on the Government and the Forestry Commission to give squirrel damage to trees the same priority as tree disease, arguing that they are a significant threat to the health and sustainability of broadleaved woods.

The Society says that: “compared with tree diseases and deer management, there is very little research, grant aid or support of any practical kind for landowners to control grey squirrels unless in service of protecting red squirrel habitats.” They argue that: “Grey squirrels are doing significant and widespread economic and environmental damage to woodlands with serious long term consequences to for their financial viability, landscape, and ecological value. Grant funding planting of broadleaves without committing to a robust long term grey squirrel control regime is not a good use of taxpayers’ money and is not in the public benefit.”

In a recent survey the Society have found that  many woodland owners are turning away from broadleaved species such as Oak, Beeck and Sweet Chestnut in favour of species which are less vulnerable. This situation has been exacerbated by Chalara which has lessened the prevalence of Ash as a mitigation against grey squirrel damage. It is now pressing for a programme to increase public awareness of the threat to the health of our broadleaved woods caused by grey squirrels and the need for controls. In addition the Society has called for research into more effective methods of grey squirrel control and the causes of grey squirrel bark stripping behaviour, financial support to woodland owners for grey squirrel control and the establishment of grey squirrel control groups to coordinate action.

We recently spotted a guidance note produced by the European Squirrel Initiative which clarifies the law in relation to grey and red squirrels. If you need information on control methods and trapping this is a greats starting point. Download it by clicking here.

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