FSC Reverse Squirel Control Decision

FSC Reverse Squirrel Control Decision

FSC International have reversed a decision not to extend a derogation on the the use of Warfarin for the control of grey squirrels in the UK.


Image courtesy of James Barker


Three weeks ago FSC International’s Pesticide committee decided not to extend the derogation for the use of Warfarin in grey squirrel control, a decision that was met with criticism from groups lobbying for better measures to protect red squirrels and protect red squirrels. Confor, the Woodland Trust, Small Woods Association and the European Squirrel Initiative, have a called for the maintenance of the warfarin derogation for the benefit of such measures.

In a statement following the reversed decision, FSC International said; “In the light of the information and feedback received in the last days, the Pesticides Committee met yesterday and agreed to reassess the renewal application for the use of Warfarin in UK. The committee will come back to the certification bodies that submitted the application once a final decision is adopted.”

The decision has been welcomed by Confor, who repeated their concerns on the loss of Warfarin in grey squirrel control. 

“A key part of this control has been the use of Warfarin by trained operators using carefully designed hoppers to control grey squirrels. This has been particularly successful in lowland broadleaved woodlands where grey squirrels can cause considerable damage.”

Undermining FSC Certification

Andrew Heald, Confor’s technical adviser suggested that the loss of Warfarin would undermine any reason for retaining FSC certification. He said:

“Confor challenged FSC in robust terms on the decision, repeating the concern from many UK forest managers about the impact of grey squirrels on native deciduous trees, and asking for the scientific evidence for banning Warfarin.”

FSC’s original decision came hot on the heels of a meeting in May, initiated by HRH Price Charles, and featuring Secretary of State for Environment, Owen Paterson, MP and Scottish Environment Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, MSP to develop an historic UK accord to ongoing grey squirrel control and red squirrel conservation. At that meeting Mr Paterson explained that he was considering a new strategy whereby support for new tree planting was tied to proper squirrel control.

For now, UK Foresters can continue to use Warfarin in certified woodlands. FSC has given no timeline on when they would meet again to formally reassess their decision.

George on the shore crop

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