The Red Squirrels in South Scotland Project was launched in 2000 with the appointment of two Red Squirrel Conservation Officers. Between 2000-2008 the project was managed by the Southern Uplands Partnership, a charity working to promote an integrated and sustainable approach to rural development and land use in Scotland’s Southern Uplands. These eight years saw the profile of red squirrels raised throughout the region and the development of 24 Red Squirrel Priority Woodlands in southern Scotland.
In August 2008 Phase IV of the RSSS project was launched. This new phase of the project was carried out in partnership with the Scottish Wildlife Trust who in 2008 launched their Saving Scotland's Red Squirrel project. During this Phase new partnerships were also formed with Scottish Natural Heritage and the Forestry Commission, as well as considerable input from the private sector.
At the end of February 2012 we were delighted to hear the Environment & Climate Change Minister, Stewart Stevenson announce that the project will continue for a further two years. This new phase of the project shall see RSSS and the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS) project merge to form a national scale red squirrel conservation project. Funding for this next phase is to be provided by Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, and Forestry Commission Scotland.
The project works closely with various groups that aim to conserve the red squirrel: Red Alert South West Scotland in Dumfries and Galloway; Borders Squirrel Management Group in the Scottish Borders; Ayrshire Red Squirrel Group; and, Red Alert North East and Red Alert North West who operate in northern England.
Our current efforts are now focussed on halting the spread of the deadly Squirrelpox virus that threatens to decimate Scotland’s red squirrel population.
‘We will strive to maintain Scotland as the UK’s stronghold for red squirrels by controlling the incursion of pox carrying greys and promoting best practice forest management throughout the south’.