A national red squirrel charity has appointed Stephen Trotter, CEO of Cumbria Wildlife Trust, to its board of trustees.

The Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST) said the appointment of Mr Trotter reflects his longstanding commitment to nature and decades of expertise as a steward of British wildlife.

Speaking about his new role, Stephen Trotter said: “It is a great honour. I am privileged to be asked to join the RSST. The organisation has a great reputation nationally and I am delighted to be joining. It is a critical time for red squirrel recovery and I am going to help in every way I can to develop this very exciting work.”

Stephen’s appointment will directly benefit the charity’s long-term goals by ensuring the best practice in the management and direction of its resources, the RSST said. Already chair of the UK Squirrel Accord’s Red Squirrel Conservation Committee, Stephen also has experience developing a coordinated approach across the UK for sharing successful lessons.

With extensive experience in species conservation, Stephen has been an advocate for red squirrels since the 1980s when he started his career in Northumberland as a National Trust warden working on survey and monitoring, and public engagement initiatives. More recently, he led the red squirrel strategy and policy for the Wildlife Trust and now heads the efforts across Cumbria.

He continued: “I can’t imagine a Cumbria without its iconic red squirrels – they just belong here. Losing them here would be like losing the ravens from the Tower of London, it is simply unthinkable. We must protect the remaining populations of red squirrels and promote their recovery across their former range in northern England, as they’re extremely vulnerable and could be lost from the region in just a few years.”

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The first job on his list is to help provide a focused energy for red squirrel conservation and raise the profile of the RSST’s work: “I think RSST has a vital role to play in helping to support, deliver, coordinate and facilitate the conservation effort for red squirrels at all levels across the UK. There’s a real need for a dedicated and influential organisation like the RSST which can champion the interests of red squirrels to decision-makers at a national level.”

As trustee of the RSST, Stephen will work to accelerate fundraising efforts and promote nation-wide awareness. Facilitating investment will help drive progress on a non-lethal  fertility regulation measure for grey squirrel populations. This, the RSST said, is vitally important because the greys are solely responsible for transmitting the usually fatal squirrel pox virus, and cause untold economic and environmental damage to trees through bark-stripping behaviours.

Stephen added that a research programme is already underway: “The RSST has demonstrated its role as a successful and significant fundraiser. It has catalysed the grey squirrel fertility management programme which is currently being delivered in partnership with DEFRA, the UK Squirrel Accord and the Animal and Plant Health Agency. This is a world-leading approach for dealing with invasive species that has only been possible because of RSST’s hard work.”

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