Belfast Telegraph

Appeal for volunteers to save the Red Squirrel

Stormont Executive press release - Department of the Environment

The Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum (NISF) is making a rallying call for volunteers to save the red squirrel here.

A strong red squirrel population has been identified in the South Tyrone region and there is significant local interest in trying to protect and conserve them for future generations.

The NISF is holding a public meeting to help form a local red squirrel conservation group at 7pm on Thursday 5 September 2013 at The Pavilion, The Round Lake in Fivemiletown. Red squirrel volunteers carry out a range of tasks such as squirrel counting, feeding, grey control, education and fund raising.

Our native red squirrels are under serious threat of extinction from this island.

The invasion of American grey squirrels which started with only 12 animals released in County Longford just over 100 years ago has reached a critical point.

The greys ability to use the best food resources and spread disease has restricted our red squirrels to marginal habitats and commercial forestry plantations.

Supporting the rallying call for volunteers, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “It is impossible to put a price on the work of our red squirrel volunteers. Their dedication to saving this charismatic little creature is amazing. Without their effort the red squirrel would be lost from many areas of Northern Ireland. But we need many more volunteers.

“We have a strong red squirrel population in South Tyrone. Let’s build on that and support the local fight back to help our reds. I support the Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum appeal for volunteers to meet with the Forum, chaired by my Department, to coordinate work as best as possible in South Tyrone. We will have representatives from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), Forest Service, the local Council plus some members of the seven other squirrel groups at the meeting."

Everyone is welcome and there are jobs to suit all ages and abilities. Email for additional information.

Notes to editors:

1. 1. The Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum (NISF) was established in the late eighties and revived in 2009 to bring together statutory and non-statutory organisations as well as representatives of country parks, private landowners and local volunteer organisations dedicated to protecting the red squirrel in Northern Ireland. The NISF provides an opportunity for the members of the group to feedback details of news, exchange ideas, new research findings, best practice on how to help conserve red and control grey squirrels.
3. 2. The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) chairs, acts as secretariat and provides the logistical support to the NISF.
5. 3. The Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum website is managed by the NIEA
7. 4. The NIEA also provides funding through its Natural Heritage Grant programme and Environment Minister’s Challenge Fund grant programme for red squirrel conservation.
8. 5. Online recording forms for reporting sightings of red and grey squirrels and pine marten sightings:

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