Red squirrel stronghold sites

Following a public consultation in 2009, Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) are establishing 18 public and private forest areas, plus the Island of Arran, as red squirrel stronghold areas.

The stronghold areas, and key areas for control of greay squirrels, are shown on this map: strategic priorities for red squirrel conservation, PDF 1.8Mb

These woodlands will be managed with red squirrel conservation as a high priority.

Managing the strongholds

More than two thirds of the total proposed stronghold area is on the National Forest Estate, where FCS will be responsible for securing populations of red squirrels in the long-term. For stronghold areas that are on private land, FCS will advise and support landowners to develop and implement suitable forest plans. Guidance has been developed with stakeholders on how to manage these strongholds - see below.

Work is ongoing to agree the stronghold boundaries and the best management approach for each woodland within a stronghold. This will include balancing local priorities to make sure that the wider biodiversity aims for these woodlands are achieved alongside red squirrel conservation.

Financial support for red squirrel conservation (PDF) is available under the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP).

Guidance for managing strongholds

Strongholds for red squirrels cover a wide range of different forest habitat types. Management options differ for these habitats, so we have created guidance for the three broadly different types; the spruce dominated forests in the south and west, the pine dominated woodlands in the north and east of Scotland, and the island woodland habitat on Arran.

We will follow this guidance when managing the National Forest Estate and will encourage it to be followed for planning and operational activities in private stronghold forests.