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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 September, 2004, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Red squirrels back as trees saved
Red squirrel
Efforts are being made to protect red squirrels
Red squirrels are fighting back against their grey rivals to re-establish themselves in a north Wales forest.

More than 20 young red squirrels have been born this year in Newborough Forest on Anglesey.

The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) and the Forestry Commission have scrapped controversial plans to fell 100 hectares of the forest.

Opponents, including the experts trying to reintroduce red squirrels, feared the move would ruin the area.

Dr Craig Shuttleworth, from the Anglesey Red Squirrel project, said he was delighted with the 23 recorded births this year.

He said: "Some of these youngsters were born in the wild and some in captivity and have now been released into the wild.

[The grey squirrel] is a carrier of a disease that is deadly to red squirrels
Charles Dutton, European Squirrel Initiative

"All are tagged and are living happily in the forest.

"Our reds are now enjoying life in the forest and we have good reason to believe that the colony will continue to grow and prosper."

Five years ago, there were fewer than 40 red squirrels on the whole of Anglesey.

The Anglesey project is backed by the European Squirrel Initiative, a voluntary group of foresters, scientists and woodland owners, and its spokesman Charles Dutton said the work at Newborough Forest had "nationwide significance".

Newborough forest
Plans to cut 100 hectares of Newborough forest have been dropped

"It proves that if we can rid our forests of the alien grey squirrel, it is possible for the native reds to re-establish themselves," he said.

"The grey squirrel has now colonised 90% of England and Wales and is widespread in Scotland.

"It is a carrier of a disease that is deadly to red squirrels. History and research has proved that it is impossible for the two species to live together."

Across Britain, there are about 2.5 million greys and only 60,000 reds.


The decision against cutting down trees was announced at a public meeting attended by more than 200 people at Llangefni on Monday night.

The Countryside Council for Wales had said the felling was needed to protect the internationally-renowned sand dunes.

But a new strategy to manage and redesign the forest has now been introduced.

It includes a six-stage consultation programme, and will begin with the creation of a liaison group to represent parties.

The area used to be all dunes, until the woodland was planted 60 years ago.

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15 Apr 04  |  North West Wales

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