Good news for Ladybank red squirrel population
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
North Annsmuir wood, which is part of Ladybank Forest, is now safe from the threat of destruction by proposed quarrying operations. The Scottish Government has dismissed the appeal made by Angle Park Sand and Gravel Company Limited against the refusal of planning permission to extract sand and gravel from an area including North Annsmuir wood.
Ladybank Forest is home to one of Fife’s most important red squirrel populations. With an estimated 160,000 left, our native red squirrel is one of the most threatened species of mammal in the UK, particularly due to its rapid decline in numbers in the last 50 years. This charismatic animal has already been lost from most of England and Wales, and is restricted to pockets of woodland in Fife. The main threats to the red squirrel are the non-native grey squirrel, which is a better competitor for food and can carry the deadly squirrelpox virus, as well the loss of the red squirrel’s woodland habitat.
A considerable area of woodland has already been lost in the Ladybank area in recent years. The Fife Coast and Countryside Trust as well as other environmental organisations and concerned groups and individuals objected to the proposed development because it would have meant the loss of a further 14.7 hectares of woodland. North Annsmuir wood has a resident red squirrel population which is part of the wider Ladybank Forest population. It would not have been possible to proceed with the development without adversely affecting and displacing the red squirrels in North Annsmuir wood.
Fife Coast and Countryside Trust Red Squirrel Project Officer said that “we are very fortunate that red squirrels can still be found in Fife, and we need to do all that we can to protect them. This includes protecting the woodland habitat that is their home. Woodland in Fife is already limited and becoming increasingly fragmented, so we are delighted that North Annsmuir wood and its red squirrel population have been safeguarded against this development.”