Conservation methods within the UK and Eire that favour non-native conifer plantations are more likely to negatively influence crimson squirrels, in keeping with new analysis.

A examine led by Queen’s College Belfast and the College of St Andrew’s in Scotland has proven that native predators in native woodland are key to the survival of the threatened species.

Researchers mentioned that the discovering is in distinction to present conservation methods which promote non-native conifer forestry plantations as a nature based mostly resolution for tackling local weather change and the biodiversity disaster.
The UK and Eire has a number of the lowest forest cowl in Europe and over 75% of it’s made up of non-native timber plantations.

Crimson Squirrels

The examine involving Ulster Wildlife and citizen scientists positioned digital camera traps at 700 websites throughout Northern Eire over a five-year interval and targeted on crimson squirrels, gray squirrels and pine martens.
Following its safety within the Nineteen Seventies and Eighties, the pine marten, which is a part of the weasel household, has made an “astounding restoration”.

Pine Marten Image: Queen’s College Belfast

Researchers mentioned this native predator will increase the crimson squirrel inhabitants particularly in native broadleaf woodlands, because the pine marten preys on the invasive gray squirrel, which has changed the crimson squirrel all through a lot of Eire and Britain.

Nonetheless, the examine discovered that this impact is reversed in giant non-native conifer plantations as gray squirrels don’t thrive in these habitats; consequently the pine marten preys on the crimson squirrel.

“Restoration of native predators is a essential conservation software to fight the on-going biodiversity disaster, however this should be at the side of upkeep and safety of pure, structurally advanced habitats,” Dr. Joshua P. Twining, lead writer from Queen’s College Belfast, mentioned.
“This has world implications given the on-going restoration of predators in sure places equivalent to mainland Europe.
“It additionally reveals that the present nationwide crimson squirrel conservation methods that favor non-native confer plantations are more likely to have the other influence to what’s meant.

Timber plantations are sometimes promoted as being helpful to crimson squirrel conservation, however our outcomes present that they may have a detrimental impact on the species sooner or later.

“This work reveals that we have to develop an alternate nationwide conservation technique for the crimson squirrel, targeted on planting native woodlands alongside continued pine marten restoration,” Twining concluded.