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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006, 08:30 GMT 09:30 UK
Classes in counting red squirrels
Tradespark Wood, Nairn
Training will be held in Tradespark Wood in Nairn
An army of volunteers will get training in how to survey Highland and Moray woodlands for red squirrels.

Juliet Robinson, a newly appointed Forestry Commission Scotland red squirrel conservation officer, will lead workshops on 11 and 12 July.

Advice will also be given by Dr Mel Tonkin, the Scottish Natural Heritage-funded Scottish squirrel survey coordinator.

Training will be carried out in Inverness and Tradespark Woods, Nairn.

Public interest

Information gathered by the volunteers will help efforts to protect native reds from any incursions by grey squirrels, which compete with the smaller animals for food.

Miss Robinson said the reds were under threat in many parts of the UK.

However, she added: "In Scotland, we still have an unrivalled conservation opportunity, especially in red squirrel core regions like the Highlands.

"Forestry Commission Scotland has organised the day in response to the huge public interest in squirrel conservation.

"We need to find out how well red squirrels are doing in the Highlands so we can help protect them in the future."

Dr Tonkin said the volunteers will be essential to gathering accurate information about red squirrel populations.

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