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RFS support for National Forest grey squirrel partnerships
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The Royal Forestry Society (RFS) is supporting the National Forest Company (NFC)'s new Grey Squirrel Strategy and is looking forward to working in active collaboration with other owners to protect woodlands in the region from damage.

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Squirrels cause damage to trees by bark stripping 

The RFS's Battram Wood was among the first to be established in The National Forest, with most of its trees planted in 1999-2001. The species mix includes English oak and other broadleaved trees which are particularly vulnerable to squirrel attack between the ages of 10-40years.

RFS Chief Executive Simon Lloyd says: "The National Forest is the perfect location to establish collaborative projects to control grey squirrels because so much of the woodland there is at a similar vulnerable stage of development. RFS members have called for support to control grey squirrels more effectively and we look forward to participating in any projects which help others learn how to establish these projects successfully.

"Our management of the site reflects forestry good practice; experiences are shared with members and others who have an interest in developing woodlands for timber and for future generations to enjoy. We believe grey squirrel control needs to be part of overall management in areas where they threaten the viability of woodlands, and that control will only be effective if there is a regional approach."

Grey squirrels cause damage to trees by bark stripping. This can kill trees or severely impair their economic and environmental value. Read a summary of The National Forest Grey Squirrel Strategy here.   

The NFC strategy is part of a national response to the problem of grey squirrels in woodland. Defra/Forestry Commission’s updated policy of grey squirrel management was launched in December. The RFS is one of 32 signatories of the Squirrel Accord which is working to raise public awareness, promote research and development and encourage landowner collaboration to control grey squirrels where woodlands are vulnerable  and to protect red squirrels.

Simon West, Head of Forestry for the NFC said: “Managing squirrel numbers to sustainable levels in order to protect our woodlands is a collective responsibility, and our new strategy highlights the work we will do with our landowners and site managers to achieve this. We will support grey squirrel management through advice, training, collaboration and funding, where possible.”

The NFC is working with Forest Research on the long-term sustainable management of grey squirrels and recognises the importance of continually developing sound scientific evidence to develop new control methods as well as understanding grey squirrel behaviour.