Committee for the Environment - Responses

All-Ireland Species Action Plan for The Red Squirrel (Sciurus Vulgaris)

Environment Committee Office
Room 247 
Parliament Buildings
Tel 028 9052 1240 
Fax 028 9052 1795

Ms Una Downey 
Assembly Liaison Officer 
Central Management Branch 
4th Floor 
Clarence Court 
Adelaide Street 

22 January 2008

Dear Una

All-Ireland Species Action Plan for The Red Squirrel (Sciurus Vulgaris)

At its meeting on 17 January 2008, the Committee for the Environment considered a public consultation paper on the draft all-Ireland Species Action Plan which was sent to the Committee on 5 th December 2007.

The Members have agreed the following comments:

The framework for the development of this action plan appears to be sound, with clearly defined objectives, and targets which are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound). This draft plan is the fifth all-Ireland Species Action Plan and the fact that the plan has been developed at the biogeographic scale of Ireland will maximise the probability of Action Plan objectives being met. Given the continued range expansion and increase in the non-native Grey Squirrel, and the contraction of the range of the native Red Squirrel to the 26 counties, conservation of this species in Northern Ireland and maintenance of the genetic diversity of the population will depend on a robust all-island approach.

Attainment of Action Plan targets is likely to be best achieved through early establishment of the Red Squirrel Action Plan Steering Implementation Group (action 5.6.1) and frequent review of progress towards implementation of measures within the plan.

Whilst a combination of approaches as specified in the plan are most likely to meet Action Plan objectives, the development of careful management of forestry practise and selective planting of different tree species may have more beneficial effects on Red Squirrel conservation than any attempt to control Grey Squirrel populations. Such management should be underpinned by the necessary research in Ireland and elsewhere and may including development of studies looking at inter alia feeding ecology, red/grey interactions, and habitat manipulation (in addition to that specified in Section 5.6).

An additional area of research which may be worthy of consideration in the context of the all-Ireland population is the development of a landscape scale spatially-explicit population model (integrating population dynamics and GIS) which would underpin implementation of aspects of the plan.

Yours Sincerely

Philip Maguire 
Environment Committee Office

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