Skip to main content


Volume 491: debated on Wednesday 22 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on controlling the grey squirrel population since 2005. (268737)

“Grey Squirrels and England’s Woodlands: Policy and Action” was published in January 2006 and this set out the role of the Forestry Commission and specific actions to be taken. These include researching new methods of control, advice on best practice, grants for woodland owners, supporting partnerships and applying best practice on the public forest estate. Implementation of the actions has resulted, for example, in collaboration on research into the potential use of immuno-contraception as a method for population control of grey squirrels. This is part of a larger DEFRA-led project looking at proving the concept of fertility control methods for a range of species.

Grant schemes administered by the Forestry Commission, specifically for the control of grey squirrels and woodland management activities, in and around the designated red squirrel reserves in north England, totalled £265,384 between 2006-07 and 2008-09. On the public forest estate the Forestry Commission is concentrating its resources on its woodlands within the designated red squirrel reserves and surrounding buffer zones.

Support of partnership and co-operative action has seen support worth £26,000 a year from the Forestry Commission and £15,000 a year from Natural England to the Save our Squirrels project. This is a £1.1 million three year project, started in 2006 to deliver advice to landowners, co-ordinating squirrel control in the red squirrel reserve buffer zones, promote grants, raising public awareness and gaining further funding for squirrel conservation work.

In addition the Red Squirrel Protection Partnership, based in Northumberland was awarded a three year £148,000 grant in June 2006 from the Rural Enterprise Scheme to support the control of grey squirrels in the county to help protect the red squirrel reserves.