Who doesn't love the red squirrel?

The Red Squirrel Survival Trust – an organisation close to a lot of farmers' hearts – has told us that while 2020 might have been a turbulent year for human life, other species across the UK have benefited from nine months of on-off lockdowns.

The largest national charity protecting Britain’s iconic native species, it has taken major steps to drive forward essential national projects. Together with the success of the national Red Squirrel Awareness Week, in September, its work has raised more than £50,000 in funding for the Animal and Plant Health Agency for the continuation of pioneering research into non-lethal grey squirrel management.

But, Vanessa Fawcett, Campaigns Director of the RSST, commented: “It’s been a difficult year in the charity space, with fundraising facing pressure from the reality of Covid-19 and a context of such economic uncertainty. Luckily, we’ve found some hope in the continued support we’ve had from across the UK, and are so grateful to everyone who has donated this year.

"We absolutely depend on public giving in order to protect our treasured native species for generations to come. It’s meant that we’ve been able to push forward with critical research (now into its third year), raising awareness, and assisting volunteers who work on the ground– which is just so vital for the future of the species.”

It appears to be working. This autumn David Bliss, a Red Squirrel Survival Trust Trustee, reported positive signs at the Lowther Estate, in Cumbria, where 1700 ha of forestry woodland is home to a stable red squirrel population.

“By keeping grey squirrels at bay, the risk of squirrel pox disease outbreaks and population expansion of the greys has fallen. It means that both our trees and red squirrels are able to thrive together in a harmonious way. It is a great sign of hope for those who are working to protect the native species across the Lake District,” he said.

One of its projects is to encourage photography of reds and the winner of its annual photo competition – which had 250 entries – was taken by Zoe Smith, in Aberdeenshire (featured).

* If you would like to support the RSST’s vital work in protecting our native species, and rewilding Britain’s landscapes, please consider donating at www.rsst.org.uk/donate