Sensitive Forestry – It Can be Done!

Here in mid-Wales we are extremely grateful to have the Mid-Wales Red Squirrel Partnership and its members as the basis and foundation for all our work. The partnership was formed in 2004 and projects like the existing Healthy Reds project have grown organically out of it. All of the major landowners are members of the partnership, including Natural Resources Wales (NRW). Recently, Mark Gretton and Jon Bell of NRW contacted us to let us know that a somewhat isolated coupe near Clywedog was due to be felled later this year. This coupe is just across the road from Clywedog, one of our strongest and busiest monitoring sites for red squirrels.

an aerial photography map showing the coupe

The coupe due for felling (c) Bing Maps

There has recently been a lot of felling work in Clywedog, including some coupes in which we had regular red squirrel records. We have been in close contact with NRW and their contractors throughout this, and are confident that the works have not been as catastrophic for the red squirrels as it might have been. We were able to protect several dreys, and red squirrels have continued to be recorded on our trail cameras since the felling works have finished.

Given the recent felling, this somewhat isolated coupe might be even more important than it has been previously, as there is a chance that squirrels may have moved there to avoid the disturbance. Before contacting us, Jon and Mark had already spoken to some locals who live on the other side of the coupe to Clywedog, and they reported having seen red squirrels. This tells us that its highly likely that red squirrels have been using the coupe. Ben Allen and I met with Jon and Mark in April 2021 to discuss the coupe, and discuss what options were available.

Ben and I conducted a quick initial survey of the coupe and set up some trail cameras. Ben has been back since to monitor and set up more cameras. We’re keeping in close contact with Jon, Mark, and the local NRW senior land management office Nick Young regarding results. We will work with NRW to ensure that contractors are aware of the presence of red squirrels, and know how this impacts their work and what to do if they see one.

We are incredibly grateful to Mark, Jon and Nick and the local NRW staff for their enthusiasm and proactive approach of contacting us before the felling plans are submitted, and for keeping the red squirrel population at the forefront of their decision-making.