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Home > NIEA > Conserving Biodiversity > Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum

The Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum (NISF)

Last updated: 17 June 2014

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

Belfast zoo logo

Belfast Zoo is hosting their annual Native Species Weekend 18, 19 and 20 July 2014

This event is very popular and there are stands from a wide range of groups including 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. These squirrels produced their first babies in 2013.  

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.  


Red Squirrel Week 2014  offically runs from 04 October to 12 October, but we have squirrel related events running from mid September through to the end of October.  

We are meeting early July to dicuss this space.  

11th October 2014 Ards Red Squirrel Group and the National Trust are hosting a red squirrel morning at Mount Stewart house and gardens, Greyabbey, Newtownards.  Details to follow.  

12th October 2014 Tollymore Red Squirrel Group are hosting their annual Red Squirrel Event this year at the National Mountain Centre, Tollymore Forest.  This is a special 10th Anniversary event celebrating red squirrels and other biodiversity issues.  Details to follow.  

More events will be added later...

For further details email:


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,