AN initiative has been organised to 'accelerate efforts to prevent the extinction' of the red squirrel.

Now an endangered species, the red squirrel has been pushed out of its native habitats in southern Britain.

However, there are around 200 red squirrels living on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour.

The Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST) launches its campaign to help save the squirrels during National Red Squirrel Awareness Week, running from September 21-27.

David Bliss, trustee of the RSST, said: "We are very excited about this year’s campaign, especially as after lockdown there is a general and growing feeling of the essential importance of green spaces and nature to our wellbeing as a nation.

"While some of us are very familiar with the plight of the red squirrel, much of the public is in the dark about the details of the threat from grey squirrels, and what is being done about it.

"Sustaining red squirrel populations depends on raising awareness, so we are looking forward to exhibiting the fantastic work being done with these leaders in the wildlife management space.”

The campaign seeks to focus on the extensive economic and ecological damage caused by grey squirrels, which will result in a devastating change to the British landscape.

Here in the UK, the broad-leafed woodlands that provide squirrels with their habitat are being devastated by the ‘bark stripping’ behaviours of the greys that expose trees to pathogens, says the RSST.

A trust spokesman said: " All broad-leafed trees under the age of 40 are at risk, which means that in the decades to come, not only will the red squirrels have no habitat south of the northern pine forests, but native broad leaf woodlands are in grave danger of being destroyed.

"Greys are also responsible for transmitting the Squirrel Pox virus that exclusively affects the reds, usually being fatal. To confront this, RSST is engaged in spearheading money-raising efforts to sustain the promising research into regulating grey squirrel fertility, along with the UK Squirrel Accord."