The red squirrel is a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The conservation aim for this species is to maintain self-sustaining populations of red squirrels and wherever practicable to expand red squirrel populations where their sustainability is threatened. This is being implemented through a broad partnership of government, statutory conservation agencies and the private and voluntary sectors.
In England, the approach to red squirrel conservation is to secure long-term habitat and conditions favouring the red squirrel in areas that grey squirrels have not yet reached in significant numbers and to limit grey squirrel expansion into these areas.
The Government and their agencies are concentrating red squirrel conservation efforts, in partnership with landowners, non-government organisations (Red Squirrel Survival Trust and the wildlife trusts) and local volunteer squirrel groups, on carefully selected red squirrel reserves and surrounding buffer zones. There are several in Northumberland; these areas were selected in 2005 and are about to be reviewed to ensure that going forward we target our efforts most effectively.
The Government are supporting red squirrel conservation in Northumberland in several other ways-for example:
providing grant aid for grey squirrel control through the English Woodland Grant Scheme (£144,000 paid in 2009-10); undertaking grey control and habitat management in Forestry Commission woodlands; andthe launch of the Red Squirrels in North England partnership project.