Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum

The Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum (NISF) was established to bring together statutory and non-statutory organisations as well as representatives of country parks and local volunteer organisations dedicated to protecting the red squirrel in Northern Ireland. The NISF provides an opportunity to feedback details of news and population dynamics across Northern Ireland and exchange ideas, research details and best practice on how to help conserve red and control grey squirrels. It is chaired by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

Red Squirrel Groups in Northern Ireland

Most recent minutes from the Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum

Key issues and policies

Ireland Action Plan

In 1999 the Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum developed a Northern Ireland Red Squirrel Action Plan (PDF-1738K)  based on the UK Red Squirrel Species Action Plan. This covered the mains aims and appropriate targets for the various organisations involved in Northern Ireland from 1999-2004.

In 2005 a meeting was held in the National University of Ireland, Galway, funded by the National Parks & Wildlife Service of the Republic of Ireland, to allow interested parties to get up to speed on the latest developments in red squirrel research and conservation, and the proceedings made publicly available: Proceedings of the Irish Red Squirrel Conservation Symposium, April 2005 (PDF-110K).  The forum was addressed by experts from Ireland, Italy and the UK and explored the issues facing red squirrel conservation in Europe.

Elements from the discussions in this forum were used to inform the All Ireland Red Squirrel Action Plan (PDF-92K) which was published in 2008.

Red squirrel distribution in Northern Ireland

In 2003 a report was published by Queens University, Belfast with the Environment and Heritage Service (now NIEA) detailing the findings of a distribution survey of squirrels within Northern Ireland: Recent Changes in the Distribution of Red squirrels in Northern Ireland (PDF-512K). It includes examination of the relative distribution of red and grey squirrels in the areas of interface in the distribution of the two species. In 2011 the first confirmed case of Squirrelpox Virus was made in Northern Ireland (Tollymore Forest).