Red squirrels in South Scotland

Elly Hamilton and Sue Hearn

Launched in August 2000 and managed by the Southern Uplands Partnership, the Red Squirrels in South Scotland project covers the Borders and Dumfries & Galloway regions, and works in parallel to similar initiatives in the north of England. By presenting a united front covering south Scotland from coast to coast, the Red Squirrels in South Scotland project has established a greater understanding of red squirrel population distribution through extensive monitoring, promoted and encouraged appropriate habitat management and put in place measures to halt or reduce the invasion of grey squirrels into red squirrel strongholds. These goals have been achieved by working closely with the public, landowners, foresters, estate managers and local conservation bodies.

One of the biggest achievements of the project over the last 3 years has been the identification of 25 woodlands, which have real potential for red squirrel conservation in the long-term. It is now considered vital that the experience gained to date is applied to ensure that these ‘Priority Woodlands’ are managed to maximise their medium/long term suitability for reds and that measures are put in place to prevent the incursion of the grey squirrel into these areas.

Funding is in place until October 2005 during which time detailed guidance documents for each of the Priority Woodlands setting out ideal management objectives will be created and developed with landowners and forest managers to create working documents. The local community (where possible) will be involved in active red squirrel conservation through the provision of interactive presentations, slideshows, training days, outdoor events and classroom based activities. Teachers in 20 primary schools across southern Scotland and in proximity to the Priority Woodlands will be provided with a ‘nut case’ full of activities, support materials and a ‘virtual red squirrel walk’ video. A paper version of this pack will also be available to primary schools across the two regions.

The project also aims to identify, develop and promote sites for nature-based tourism, through the provision of interpretation, viewing stations and information leaflets for visitors to South Scotland. Local accommodation businesses will be given the opportunity to become involved in a number of ways with the aim of enhancing local businesses, raising the quality of a visitors’ experience of the area and also raising general awareness.

For further information on the Red Squirrels in South Scotland project please contact one of the project officers or check out the project website on

Elly Hamilton, Red Squirrel Conservation Officer for the Borders, Studio 2, Lindean Mill, Galashiels, Selkirkshire, TD1 3PE, Tel: 01750 23446

Sue Hearn, Red Squirrel Conservation Officer for Dumfries & Galloway, c/o SOSWH, Barony College, Parkgate, Dumfries, DG1 3NE Tel: 01387 860 442

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