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£40,000 boost to grey squirrel control research
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The Royal Forestry Society (RFS) has donated more than £40,000 towards a £1.1m five-year project researching grey squirrel control – and now it has called for others in the countryside sector to do the same!

The cheque, made possible by generous donations from RFS members and supporters, was handed over outside the Houses of Parliament to Lord Kinnoull who, with the UK Squirrel Accord, has been spearheading fundraising.

40 000 Grey Squirrel Control Handover Lr
Boosting research into grey squirrel control. RFS President Andrew Woods, far right, with Chief Executive Simon Lloyd presents the cheque to, from the left, Chair of the UK Squirrel Accord (and Chair of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust) Lord Kinnoull with Alastair Mathewson from the Red Squirrel Survival Trust and Kay Haw, UK Squirrel Accord Manager

RFS Chief Executive Simon Lloyd says: “Our members and supporters have consistently named the grey squirrel and the damage it causes to woodland trees as their number one challenge. Without a concerted and sustained programme to control grey squirrels, some landowners and forest managers tell us they are turning their backs on broadleaved planting and that could have a long-term impact on wooded landscapes and on timber economies. 

“We are delighted our members and supporters have responded so magnificently to our appeal to support this vital research. Our fund remains open, but there needs to be a concerted effort from others across the countryside sector to raise an outstanding £200,000 still needed to underpin the remaining research.”

Chair of the UK Squirrel Accord (and Chair of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust), Lord Kinnoull added: “I would like to thank RFS supporters for their incredible generosity. This is an extremely important project, which is already bearing fruit.”

Grey squirrels strip bark from some of our most iconic tree species, including oak, making them vulnerable to disease and death and reducing their potential value for timber. Grey squirrels are also responsible for eliminating red squirrels in many parts of the country.

The five-year research project to develop an oral contraceptive and a suitable dispensing mechanism is expected to cost £1.1 million. The project is currently entering its second year at the FERA. A total of £94,000 has been committed by Defra towards the project with other monies already donated from the countryside sector. Just £200,000 is still needed to meet the full costs of research.