The red squirrel is the UK’s only native squirrel species and is
under threat from the grey, originally introduced from America.
The danger from the grey squirrel is two fold, as they are better
at competing for food and also carry the squirrelpox virus disease
which is lethal to reds.
THE first red squirrel reserve to be established in England since 2005 has this month been designated at Greenfield Forest in the Yorkshire Dales.
UPM Tilhill, which manages the forest at Langstrothdale, will work alongside Red Alert North England partners including the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, the Forestry Commission and the Save Our Squirrels project to implement new management guidelines for the reserve.
“We are delighted with the news that Greenfield has become the 17th red squirrel reserve in England,” said George Hay, Forest Manager, North West District, UPM Tilhill. “Its size, species distribution and robustness make it a valuable site capable of supporting a large and healthy red squirrel population.”
Richard Pow from the Forestry Commission and Chairman of Red Alert North England added: “The red squirrel reserves represent the focal points for red squirrel conservation and are critical in the fight to save the species in northern England. We are delighted to add Greenfield to the list.”
At over 1000 hectares, Greenfield will become the largest area of potentially suitable red squirrel habitat in the Yorkshire Dales. Volunteers from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority have already confirmed the presence of reds at Greenfield which coincides with the maturing of the site’s coniferous trees, now seeding and providing a vital food source for the species.
The designation of Greenfield as a red squirrel reserve will have a real positive impact on the red squirrel population within the National Park and will help to ensure their long term survival in the Dales
Ian Court - YDNPA
Ian Court, Wildlife Conservation Officer with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority said: “The designation of Greenfield as a red squirrel reserve will have a real positive impact on the red squirrel population within the National Park and will help to ensure their long term survival in the Dales.”
The appearance of red squirrels in Greenfield was first confirmed in 2004 and was a welcome development for this endangered species. This new reserve follows on from the creation of reserves and associated buffer zones in Garsdale, Mallerstang and Widdale and will ensure red squirrels can continue to flourish in the Yorkshire Dales at a time when smaller woodlands at the nearby Widdale red squirrel reserve approach felling age.
Simon O’Hare, Conservation Officer with Save our Squirrels said: “It is fantastic that Greenfield has been acknowledged as a key woodland for red squirrels. This will aid the long-term survival of reds locally, and also help preserve the geographical range of the species across northern England”
Coniferous woodland, particularly spruce forests, can provide a safe haven for red squirrels as the habitat is not favoured by greys. The seed size is small and better suited to the smaller red squirrel. UPM Tilhill will now apply to the Forestry Commission for grant aid under the English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) to help implement and fund the management of the reserve to give the red squirrel population the best possible chance of expansion and survival.
“A big thank you to Greenfield's owners who are very keen to support and be involved in this important development which substantially contributes to the survival of red squirrels both in the Yorkshire Dales and nationally,” added George Hay.