The Wildwood Trust launches appeal to restore the only spot in Devon where red squirrels can be seen in their natural habitat
British wildlife conservation charity, Wildwood Trust, has launched an urgent appeal to help restore the timber walkway through the red squirrel habitat at its park in East Devon and bring hope for the conservation of the iconic species.
The walk through woodland enclosure at the park, near Ottery St Mary, was built 11 years ago to give visitors the unique opportunity to get up close to the native red squirrels, which are on the brink of extinction.
Now the popular viewing area, the only one of its kind in Devon, is in desperate need of repair. The charity needs to raise £9,000 and complete the restoration work to walkways and railings before Spring.
George Hyde, Wildwood Escot’s General Manager, said: “The red squirrel has been extinct in the wild in Devon for more than 50 years. It is totally outnumbered by the invasive grey squirrel and could be wiped out in Britain by 2030 without intervention.
“That’s why the conservation work we’re doing here at Wildwood is so important and the walk through habitat plays a key role - it’s the only place in Devon where people can see the red squirrels in their natural habitat.
“We desperately need your support to help us restore it and ensure future generations will get to experience this beautiful animal in the wild.”
Wildwood Trust has been successfully breeding red squirrels in captivity for 20 years. The charity sends up to 10 juveniles every year for release into the wild, contributing to vital release programmes across Anglesey and mainland Wales. These reintroductions have helped hundreds of red squirrels reclaim their woodland homes.
Restoring the squirrels’ home will also help Wildwood to support a second threatened species - the European pond turtle. The species is likely to be facing extinction in the near future without immediate help.
As part of the red squirrel walkway refurbishment, the plan is to construct a variety of ponds, basking areas, woodland nesting grounds and a protected nursery for young turtles, to create an ideal habitat in which they can flourish.
To find out more about the appeal or offer support to secure the home of the two endangered species, click here