Last summer, it suddenly came to the team’s attention that a coupe of planned NRW larch felling in Clywedog would in fact include some sites where we have had regular Red Squirrel records. This was extremely concerning, as we didn’t want to risk the strong-hold in the west being further fragmented, and it created an obvious threat to the red squirrels resident in the area. Another piece of bad luck in this puzzle was that NRW was in the middle of a major re-shuffle, so some of those who the team had been working with over the past few months and years were no longer responsible for this area. It is at this stage in the proceedings that I took over from Becky.
Ben, Phil and I met with Nick Young, who was now in charge of the Clywedog woods for NRW. We discussed the exact boundaries, and it turns out that only one of the two dreys found were inside the boundary, though the second drey was only just outside- so at risk of hugely increased weather exposure to the drey, but at least any animals using it wouldn’t be directly at risk. Nick agreed to ensure that a 20 metre buffer in all directions would be preserved around the drey within the felling area. Any Larch trees in that area would be ring barked or poisoned, such that they would be killed but left standing. If the 20m buffer didn’t reach the edge of the felling coupe, then a few standing ringbarked (deadwood) trees would be left to create a corridor a couple of metres wide to allow movement of any animal in the drey. Furthermore, if the second drey outside the area is within 20m of the felling area, then a few additional trees would be left there also to protect the drey from a sudden increase of wind blow and other effects of the weather.
The felling is underway currently, and they will soon be reaching the coupes we are most concerned about. We are continuing to monitor the red squirrel activity in the area with trail cameras, but we are hopeful that the squirrels will quickly adapt to this change in the landscape. After all, our mid wales red squirrels are a hardy bunch, or else they wouldn’t have survived this long.