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Members back landowner collaboration to control grey squirrels
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A survey of RFS members has revealed qualified support for new Defra policy on grey squirrel control in England.   

RFS Chief Executive Simon Lloyd says: "In general, our members welcome the new policy which recognises the need to address the widespread damage grey squirrels are inflicting on our broadleaf woods, and see it as a positive step in the right direction. Members particularly welcome policies which encourage collaboration between landowners.”

“However, members have expressed reservations about how effective the new policy will be in practice. There are concerns that many woodland owners will not qualify for incentives included in the new grant scheme, and that without Warfarin there are currently inadequate tools to do the job effectively. These issues need to be addressed if the policy is to make a difference.” 

A total of 74% of more than 270 who responded to a survey are in favour of the new policy, published in December 2014, although 13% of those expressed some reservations. 18% believe the policy falls short of what is required to make a difference. 

Around 88% support collaboration between landowners and more than half of those say they would be willing to take part in any collaborative projects in their area.

More than 63% support linking woodland grants to squirrel control and a further 24% want more information on how this will work in practice. 

There is strong support from RFS members for the development of new control methods including new traps and research into chemical control agents.

The full survey results are being shared with Forestry Commission England to support work on the implementation phase of the policy. The new government policy can be found at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/greysquirrel.