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Home > NIEA > Conserving Biodiversity > Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum

The Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum (NISF)

Last updated: 1 October 2013

NISF Squirrel Logo designed by Hanna TisdaleThe Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum (NISF) was established to bring together statutory and non-statutory organization  as well as representatives of country parks, private landowners and local volunteer organizations dedicated to protecting the red squirrel in Northern Ireland. The NISF provides an opportunity for the members of the group to feedback details of news, exchange ideas, new research findings, best practice on how to help conserve red and control grey squirrels.  

The NISF is chaired by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency  (NIEA) and has representation from:

Biodiversity Officers from:


Northern Ireland currently has eight Red Squirrel volunteer Groups who work with the statutory agencies and land owners to secure the future of the red squirrel. The map below shows the approximate working areas of the 8 Red Squirrel groups currently operating in Northern Ireland.

NISF, squirrel groups,

There are links to further information on each of groups below:

The NISF have representation on the UK Red Squirrel Forum

The UK Red Squirrel Group (UKRSG) aims to co-ordinate and raise awareness of the conservation needs of our native red squirrel and the action being taken to deliver this under the UK Red Squirrel Species Action Plan. The group has an official responsibility to report the success and progress towards this within the overall UK Biodiversity Action Plan but also helps to develop and co-ordinate advice and best-practice on red squirrel conservation issues for landowners, conservationists, statutory officials and the general public. The group works at the UK level and liaises closely with the country groups to deliver action on a local level.

Members of the NISF also liaise closely with the red squirrel groups in Great Britain.  

These include the Red Squirrel Survival Trust

European Squirrel Initiative

Isle of Wight Red Squirrel project

Red Squirrels Northern England

Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels

Contact the NISF

Red Squirrel Copyright John Doherty


Telephone 028 9056 9551

Write to:

Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum
c/o The NIEA Wildlife Team
2nd Flr Klondyke Building, Cromac Ave.
Gasworks Business Park

Malone Lower
Belfast BT7 2JA.

Squirrel Forum News

Red Squirrel Week 2013  offically runs from 05 October to 13 October, but we have squirrel related events running from mid September through to the end of October.  

The West Tyrone RSG and DARD Forest Service

are hosting their popular Red Squirrel day on Sunday 22nd of September 2013

Ring of Gullion RSG

are hosting a family event at their Sileve Gullion Site on Saturday 05 October 2013.

Ards RSG

are hosting a family event at the National Trust's Mount Stewart Estate, Saturday 12 October 2013

Tollymore RSG

are hosting their annual and  very popular Red Squirrel Day on Sunday 13 October at Tollymore Forest Park, Newcastle from 12:00pm.

The Glens RSG

are hosting a series of events round 'Squirrel Week'; with full details on their website and facebook pages

an early one is on Sat 14th Sept Hedgerow Celebration and Forage Event, 10-12noon, Venue within Moyle District Council area TBC

Join the Local Biodiversity Officer - Rachel Bain and Dermot Hughes from Forage Ireland in exploring and celebrating our native hedges and foraging along the way. With the Glens Red Squirrel Group on hand to show and tell about how the Hedgerows we have can help and aide our native red squirrels. Further details to follow on the Glens RSG website. This is part of the Heritage Lottery Funded Hedgerows Grow West Project.

Red Squirrel Walks in Glenarm and Ballycastle Forest Sunday 22 Sept

See the areas in Ballycastle and Glenarm where the Glens Red Squirrel Group Feed the native red squirrel. Hear about the work the group does the help the reds and control the grey squirrels. Find out how you can help.

Launch of the Cushendall Red Squirrel Trail and Open night 1stOctober in Glens Hotel Cushendall

Launch of new Red Squirrel Trails and Walks in Glenariff Forest 6 October.

Ballycastle walk 22 Sept.

The North-West RSG

are holding an event  taking place on Saturday 28th September at Learmount Forest in Park, Derry from 11:00 – 13:00.

The Fermanagh RSG

have annouced their programme for squirrel week:

The website gives more information on what is involved at each.

Saturday 5th October 2013, 10.30am - 1pm, National Trust's Florencecourt Estate
The FRSG and the National Trust - Red Squirrel Survey Training - Survey Approaches & Techniques

Saturday 5th October 2013, 2pm, National Trust's Florencecourt Estate
The FRSG and the National Trust - Red Squirrel Week Walkabout

Wednesday 16th October 2013, 7pm, National Trust's Castle Coole, Tearoom
FRSG - Information Evening followed by AGM

The Ulster Wildlife Trust is hosting two squirrel events in county Down in the run up to squirrel week:

Delamont Country Park between  Downpatrick and Killyleagh on the 22/09/13

Kilbroney Park near  Rostrevor, Down  28/09/13

More events will be added later...

New Group Meeting

The Forum is trying to get a local squirrel up and running in the Clogher Valley area of South Tyrone to compliment the existing groups in Fermanagh and West Tyrone.  

The first meeting of a potential South Tyrone RSG was well attended and we hope to get an Emailing list set up quickly to help organise the group.  If you were unable to attend the meeting or wish to take part please email or call 028 905 69551

There is a public meeting for interested parties on Thursday the 5th of September 2013 at The Pavillion , The Round Lake, Fivemiletown.  Starting at 7pm.  

NISF, Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum, South Tyrone, public meeting,

For further details email:




Belfast zoo logo

The Forum was represented at the Belfast Zoo Native species weekend 19, 20 and 21 July 2013 by the NIEA and Forest Service Staff, as well members of Tollymore Red Squirrel Group.  

Belfast Zoo is home to many native species which are found in and around Northern Ireland. In summer 2012, Belfast Zoo also became home to three red squirrels (from the Glens of Antrim) when they formed the first captive breeding programme for red squirrels in Northern Ireland.

During the zoo’s native species and red squirrel fun days, there were a number of events and activities designed to raise awareness of local diversity and wild habitats.

Belfast Zoo, red squirrels, squirrel suit,

Thanks to the parents and guardians of those children featured in these photos who gave their kind permission to publish them on this and Belfast Zoo's websites.  

If you go down to the woods today...

Pupils from Donaghadee Primary School were one of several local schools that visited the National Trusts Mount Stewart Estate near Greyabbey County Down to learn about red squirrels and conservation during the week of the 17 June 2013.  Our furry friend was there to lend a paw...

red squirrels, education, donaghadee primary school

Ulster Wildlife Trust  - Squirrel control opinion survey

Take part in the grey squirrel control debate via this link below:

Grey Squirrel Control Opinion Survey

Tollymore RSG, Squirrel suits, mascots,

A little helping hand...

The Tollymore RSG had a little help from two furry representatives of the local red squirrel community at their Easter Weekend event on the 1st of April.  These guys will be making an appearance at the 2013 National Countrysports Fair being held at Moira Demesne, Co. Down, Northern Ireland, over the weekend of Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th May along with other members of the local red squirrel groups and the NISF.  

Joint Red Squirrel Groups Visit to Cumbria 23-25 Nov 2012.

5 NISF members crossed the Irish Sea in November to visit fellow squirrel savers in Cumbria were they met with members from Penrith and District Red Squirrel Group, Red Squirrel Rangers at CenterParcs at Whinfell, Red Squirrels Northern England and the Red squirrel Survival Trust - They are due to provide an account of their trip to the next NISF meeting in February.  

New red squirrel enclosure at Belfast Zoo!!

Belfast Zoo launched the enclosure on the 24th August 2012.

Three red squirrels were collected from the Glens of Antrim under NIEA licence with much of the hard work on the ground being carried out by the volunteers of the Glen's Red Squirrel Group.  The two females and a male were examined by the zoo vet and brought back to the zoo.  

The squirrels currently have the run of two enclosures which are linked by two overhead runs.  The enclosures are designed to be largely hidden from the public but the squirrels can be viewed through hide-like windows.  This gives the squirrels an element of privacy.  They are becoming more relaxed in their new environment and were regularly making appearances across the opening weekend.  

While the primary purpose of the group is an educational role, it is hoped that they will breed and their offspring can be returned to the wild in Northern Ireland.  The zoo would like to expand this breeding programme if these initial steps prove successful.  

Belfast zoo, red squirrels; captive breeding,

The NISF has been working with Belfast Zoo and we get excellent coverage on the exciting new signage.  

Belfast zoo, signage, red squirrels,