Storm Arwen threatens red squirrel habitats

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Woodlands across the UK have experienced significant damage over the last week due to storm Arwen. The Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST), a national charity for red squirrel conservation and protection, have voiced concerns over the devastation of the rare mammal’s habitat.

David Bliss, Trustee of the RSST, and CEO of Cumbria’s Lowther Trust, said:

“Across the North of England and Scotland large areas of habitat have been lost as a result of storm Arwen. However red squirrel colonies are amazingly resilient and are very good at readjusting so the priority for those responsible for clearing up is to do this appropriately.

“The temptation to clear up a woodland and make it tidy is the wrong this to do, for all wildlife, not just red squirrels. In the short term, take the best firewood and leave some for nature to recreate their habitats. This is especially important at this time of year as we head into winter. We should also refrain from cutting hedges so that there is habitat left for wildlife such as squirrels.”

The trust suggests that expanding natural habitats by 10% is key to helping the population of red squirrels grow and survive.

David added:

“Repairing these woodlands is not going to happen overnight. However, natural regeneration in the woodland should be something which can be very successful and should be considered.

“We must see this as an opportunity to work with the Woodland Trust, Natural England and the Forestry Commission to take advice on replanting the woodlands. So many of our woodlands have been neglected over the years and they are not of mixed age. Now is the time to build more resilience into these woodlands by replanting different types and looking carefully at what we plant; perhaps also giving additional space for the woodland and wildlife corridors.”

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