A widening and growing discussion on the damage that grey squirrels are causing to the UK’s much loved broadleaf woodlands is warmly welcomed by the RFS.
In an article in the Sunday Times on October 19 on the Prince of Wales’ plans to cull grey squirrels to help protect red squirrels, Science and Environment Editor Jonathan Leake also highlighted the damage grey squirrels cause to broadleaf woodlands.
He adds: “We know from our recent Squirrel Survey that woodland owners regard grey squirrels as the biggest danger facing broadleaved woodlands. There is evidence that some landowners are being put off planting broadleaves because they fear that too many will fall victim to grey squirrels. If too many trees fail, and fewer are planted, then the future of the UK’s broadleaf woodlands is threatened – and that is a matter of concern to all who love our woodlands.”RFS Chief Executive Simon Lloyd, says: “Discussions about grey squirrels often focus solely on the important case to protect native red squirrels and the plight of British woodlands does not get mentioned. However, if the UK is to protect the health of its woods and trees the issue of grey squirrel damage must be addressed at the same time.”
The RFS is amongst a number of conservation and forestry organisations calling for effective and targeted controls in areas where grey squirrels are detrimental to existing and new woodland planting. The RFS also wants to see more research into grey squirrel behaviours, humane control methods and to encourage planting of a wider range of species to help make British woodlands a less tasty and inviting place for grey squirrels to thrive.
RFS former Management Chair Andrew Woods told the Sunday Times grey squirrel were particularly damaging for young oak and beech and said: “They have learnt to strip the bark from almost all our native broadleaf trees so that in many areas there are no longer any juvenile oaks. They reach the age of 10 to 15 years and then get attacked and die.’