THE European Squirrel Initiative (ESI) has welcomed the Forestry Commission’s latest updates on controlling grey squirrels, but fears two key areas are not being addressed.

The ESI said that this is an “opportune time” to co-ordinate activities in both limiting woodland damage and supporting red squirrel conservation.

“There is a lot of excellent content in the updated guidance notes, with detailed new advice from Forest Research touching on most aspects of grey squirrel control, which is very much welcomed,” said Charles Dutton, ESI trustee. “However, this has been long overdue, and it is disappointing that two key aspects have been omitted.”

He continued: “There is a great deal of peer-reviewed literature about damage prediction, and this would be most helpful to foresters and woodland managers. Access to this information would enable them to identify of the early signs of damage, and to undertake major control before massive economic damage occurs.”

ESI said it would have also liked to see an update to the Forestry Commission’s ‘Red Squirrel Conservation’ paper, and believes this could have been combined into one comprehensive guidance document.

“Whilst ESI has concentrated on trying to remove grey squirrels and their impacts on reds, the management of the woodland habitat needs to be updated,” said Mr Dutton.

“There has been so much research on red squirrel habitats since the original document was first published, in 1978. The ESI feels this would have been an ideal opportunity to produce one overarching document, encompassing damage-prediction advice and red squirrel conservation research, alongside the other updates.

“We do very much welcome the updates, it is a positive step forward, but the ESI would urge Forest Research to update the Red Squirrel Conservation document as soon as possible.”

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