Red Squirrels United: Who are we and what are we doing?
Why do red squirrels matter?
The red squirrel is the UK’s only native squirrel species and was once widespread across our islands. Red squirrel populations have declined since the introduction of the grey squirrel in 1876, and it is now thought there are less than 140,000 red squirrels left in the wild.
Grey squirrels are larger than red squirrels and can outcompete them for food and shelter, pushing red squirrels into areas where they find it more difficult to survive. Grey squirrels also transmit squirrelpox which can kill a red squirrel within weeks.
Experts agree that the continued threat of the grey squirrel means that red squirrels will become extinct in the UK within a generation, unless we work together to secure their future.
What is Red Squirrels United?
Red Squirrels United is the biggest ever partnership of academics, practitioners and volunteers working together on a scientifically robust programme of red squirrel conservation. Our work focuses on nine main stronghold areas of red squirrel populations across Northern Ireland, England and Wales.
Red Squirrels United is the largest invasive species management programme in Europe, and represents a significant investment by the EU LIFE14 programme and the Heritage Lottery Fund of around £3 million. It unites more than 30 UK organisations committed to protecting red squirrels, led by a partnership of eight organisations.
We are working with community-based rapid response teams involving more than 1,200 volunteers who are championing red squirrel conservation to form a coordinated and strategic national force for good.
Who makes up Red Squirrels United?
Red Squirrels United is led by The Wildlife Trusts in partnership with Newcastle University, Forest Research, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Red Squirrels Trust Wales, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Ulster Wildlife and The Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales.
The Wildlife Trusts has more than 20 years of experience in managing social and environmental grant programmes totalling over £250 million, and proven successes working with and empowering people to make significant environmental and societal impacts across the UK.