Lord Stafford, and CLA Staffordshire President Piers Monckton, are hoping owners will consider donating £1 for each acre of their woodland to help a programme designed to reverse the population explosion of grey squirrels by distributing a benign contraceptive drug via species-specific feeders in woodland.
The programme is supported by Defra and is being undertaken by Government scientists at the Animal & Plant Health Agency.
Fertility Control offers an effective solution to the population explosion of the hugely destructive grey squirrel, to allow our native red squirrel and broadleaf woodlands to flourish together, offering a safe, long lasting and publicly-supported solution with benefits for woodland and wildlife.
I think giving a pound an acre of woodland is a very small price to pay for the massive benefits it will bring.
The Red Squirrel Survival Trust, which established the UK Squirrel Accord at the suggestion of its Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, is driving the campaign to raise the £1m needed. Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Minister for Rural Affairs & Biosecurity, is fully behind the project, as are Natural England, the Forestry Commission, the Woodland Trust and the Wildlife Trusts. £771,598 has already been raised, leaving £228,402 to find. Devon & Cumbria have raised an incredible £31,280 through landowners contributing £1 an acre of woodland owned and it is hoped other counties will follow suit.
Without the successful launch of the grey squirrel fertility control vaccine, there is a very real chance that future generations will never see mature standings of biodiverse broadleaf native hardwoods and that our iconic red squirrel will be extinct.
Lord Stafford said: “With the damage they do to trees, grey squirrels are one of the worst pests for woodlands. If we can all get behind this fertility treatment I think we have a real chance of making a big diference. To that end I shall be writing to as many woodland owners as I can, and if the CLA can support this initiative then we can really can make some progress”
Piers Monckton added: “I’m very much in favour of planting broadleaf woodland for the diversity and wildlife benefits, but the grey squirrel is a primary reason why we struggle to do so. I think giving a pound an acre of woodland is a very small price to pay for the massive benefits it will bring to woodlands.
To find out more visit the UK Squirrel Accord website at squirrelaccord.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us at the regional