For those who may not be aware, the Red Squirrel population of the British Isles has been a special interest of mine for a number of years. It is disturbing then to learn that they are under threat in Wales (where I lived longer than any other country) yet again. Please read the following letter.
I apologise for this bulk send, but I thought friends members and visitors to our squirrel website would be interested in the fact that local Anglesey community groups and red squirrel conservationists are campaigning once again to prevent the destruction of a large part of Newborough forest - see www.redsquirrels.info for details. The squirrel-buffs amongst you will know that this woodland contains one of the largest red squirrel populations in Wales, and is the only successful grey eradication/red reintroduction project in the UK. In 2004, similar clearfelling plans were met with a huge local public backlash and were 'shelved' by the Countryside Council for Wales.
The subsequent four year public consultation was meant to provide a means of producing a forest management that would accommodate all interests and stakeholder groups. Although the Forestry Commission produced a balanced draft plan, the Countryside Council for Wales have rejected it and returned back to their 2004 demands for 40% of the trees to be cut, the stumps and soil removed, and the area made into mobile sand dunes. Freedom of Information requests have since revealed large numbers of documents and internal memos that demonstrate that a significant element in CCW always intended to ignore the outcome of the community consultation. This is now the subject of a formal complaint to the Welsh Assembly Government and the EU, a complaint based upon rights enshrined within the Aarhus Convention on environmental democracy.
We have just set up an online petition, and I would be very pleased if you would consider signing it, and should you wish, letting others know about.
All the best
Dr Craig Shuttleworth
The Anglesey Red Squirrel Project