Northern Red Squirrels
squirrel, which used to exist in very large numbers
throughout the UK, is now an endangered species. The main
threat is the grey squirrel, a much larger species that
has spread across the UK at an increasingly alarming
rate. Competing for food and habitat it crucially carries
the Squirrel Pox virus, which has little effect on the
grey but is usually fatal when passed to the red.
The red still inhabits areas of Northern England and conservation efforts are ongoing by funded organisations such as the Red Squirrels Northern England Project (RSNE), Red Squirrel Protection Partnership (RSPP) and Government bodies. However, resources are limited and their work is focussed primarily on 17 key areas, including Kielder Forest. For non-key areas and to provide additional support to the funded bodies, action by volunteers is crucial.
Voluntary organisations have been active in Cumbria since the early 1990s and similar groups have now been established in Northumberland. However, liaison between them has been informal as has their relationships with the funded bodies. In addition, there was no support for individuals who wanted to set up new groups or become involved with an existing one.
Northern Red Squirrels is an umbrella group that has been created to unite all independent voluntary groups and individuals that are working to help save our red squirrels from extinction in the North. It is a 'network of voluntary action' that will share news, ideas and best practice. Each member, however, remains completely independent to allow it to address issues within its own area in the most appropriate way. Since its launch in March 2008, Northern Red Squirrels has attracted over forty independent voluntary groups and individuals to join forces and the number is still rising.
There is little doubt that without the efforts of these volunteers, there would be fewer areas in the north that are still inhabited by red squirrels. However, in the last year or two, some areas have lost their red squirrel populations as greys have taken over. With additional voluntary help, further losses can be prevented. Hence, Northern Red Squirrels also exists to provide information, advice and guidance to enable others to get involved in conservation efforts.
If you would like to become involved, contact your local group if one exists or if not, email or phone NRS. To find the nearest group to you, use our Map or look through the alphabetical Membership Groups list. If you do not wish to become formally involved. you can still provide valuable assistance by: