There is a confusing number of organisations claiming to be working for red squirrels. The purpose of this section is to list and briefly describe currently existing organisations from a "volunteer" perspective, i.e. what do they do on the ground and more particularly what do they do in the North East?
The Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST)
RSST is a charitable trust based in London, describing itself as "The UK's national red squirrel charity". The website, recently replaced, is short on hard facts, particularly with regard to any current involvement or support for activity in the North East.
However, they have just announced
Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE)
Originally formed as a partnership between The Wildlife Trusts, the Red Squirrel Survival Trust, Forestry Commission and Natural England in co-operation with Northern Red Squirrels. Initial funding was for a five year period, 2010-15, and then a diminishing role to the present; now effectively merged with Northumberland Wildlife Trusts.
Red Squirrels United (RSU)
This is a partnership involving the Wildlife Trust, the Forestry Commission and Newcastle University, formed in 2015 and assumed at the outset to be carrying on where RSNE left off. They received £3M of funding from EULife14 and the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2015/16, intended to cover a 4 year period, i.e. until late 2019.
The United Kingdom Squirrel Accord (UKSA)
The Accord was formed in May 2014. Membership is from conservation, timber and woodland interests, sharing concerns regarding the damage caused by grey squirrels. Their stated aim is
Red squirrel populations protected and thriving and greys controlled through targeted and sustained action.
Northern Red Squirrels (NRS)
NRS is the umbrella association representing red squirrel volunteer groups across the north of England. They are respected and effective as a source of information as well as providing charitable status to member groups. Areas of key support are as follows:
The European Squirrel Initiative (ESI)
ESI was formed in 2002 as a publicity and lobby group with the aim to foster the commitment of governments throughout Europe in securing the future of the red squirrel through the effective control of the grey squirrel. They are effective and respected as well as publishing a quarterly newsletter. This is well informed and worth reading. A link is given below.
The Forestry Commission
The Forestry Commission is a non-ministerial government department responsible for forestry in England and Scotland. This includes the main red squirrel stronghold, Kielder Forest. They provide a code of standards and recommendations for grey squirrel control; but as far as we are aware, they do not undertake any grey squirrel control or monitoring in this area and have
no regular communication with volunteer groups involved in protecting the integrity of Kielder. For all their stipulations and aspirational words, this arm of government, in practice, actually does nothing to support red squirrels.