Clwyd West MS and Red Squirrel Species Champion in the Welsh Parliament, Darren Millar, has called for Ministers to intervene to prevent the felling of trees in Pentraeth Forest on Anglesey to protect the red squirrel population there.
Raising the matter in this week’s Business Statement in the Senedd, Darren said red squirrel experts have warned that the felling will setback conservation efforts by at least a decade, and called for Welsh Government action to intervene.
“I've been contacted in my capacity as the red squirrel champion in the Senedd regarding the felling of 17 acres of Pentraeth Forest on Anglesey.
“This is much to the consternation of the red squirrel enthusiasts, the Red Squirrel Survival Trust, and red squirrel experts like Dr Craig Shuttleworth, all of whom who believe that this will set back red squirrel conservation efforts on the island by at least a decade.
“Ynys Mon has the strongest population of red squirrels in Wales and I would have thought that we needed to make sure that any felling that takes place on Welsh Government land in areas such as this is done so in a way that doesn't jeopardise the conservation efforts that have been made.
“The Red Squirrels Survival Trust have been calling for the intervention of the Minister to prevent the felling from taking place and to swap the felling area for another coup that doesn't threaten this particular important and iconic Welsh species.”
The Welsh Government’s Trefnydd replied: “The Joint Nature Conservation Committee is currently in the initial data-gathering phase of its review of species protection, and I know the Minister is awaiting the recommendations of that and, obviously, the inter-agency group, which includes NRW, will be put out to consultation. So, I'm sure the Minister will have heard your contribution and will take that in those views when she looks at the recommendations.”
Last year Darren held the first ever red squirrels debate in the Senedd during which he highlighted the efforts in North Wales to protect the red squirrel.
“When conservation efforts on Anglesey began, just around 40 squirrels were left on the island, but due to the leadership of Craig Shuttleworth and the Red Squirrels Trust Wales, today, there are around 800 of our red squirrel friends on that island alone, and the population is so large that a number of them have even escaped Anglesey, crossing the Menai straits, to form a small population in the Bangor area.”
He concluded by stating “that without the appropriate action to protect our wildlife here in Wales, we risk causing irreparable damage to our natural heritage” and told Members of the Senedd “It's our duty to safeguard our environment and to support the plight of the red squirrel and other iconic Welsh wildlife.”