Mid and East Antrim Borough Council's story
The partnership between the Ballygally Biodiversity Group (BBG), Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Cairndhu Golf Club, Ulster Wildlife and Belfast Zoo has now produced breeding Red Squirrels in the Park.
There are five red squirrel wardens who regularly check, feed and monitor the red squirrels, however the outreach is much wider, with members of public reporting sightings, demonstrating the interest in this success story for everyone involved.
Spring 2021 allowed a celebration of this hard work when the first wild born red squirrel kittens appeared at Carnfunnock. This was swiftly followed by several more litters demonstrating the success of this project.
It is not just the group who are benefiting from witnessing this re-establishment of the red squirrels in the area. An adventure nature trail featuring the red squirrel has welcomed thousands of visitors over the summer period. The Ballgally Biodiversity Group, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and all the partners involved are passionate about the core aim of re-introducing and supporting the red squirrel population in the area, but also engaging with the wider public to ensure that everyone understands the importance of this project; both for today and future generations.
The work doesn’t stop there – the group are continually looking for opportunities to extend the geographical range of this important species alongside the Council, by creating more appropriate habitats, and buffering and maintaining existing habitat in place.
Useful learnings from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
The success of this project is thanks to a strong partnership between the Ballygally Biodiversity Group (BBG), Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Cairndhu Golf Club, Ulster Wildlife and Belfast Zoo; which has now produced breeding Red Squirrels in the Park.
Re-introducing and supporting a red squirrel population into an area means that you have to engage with the wider public, to ensure that everyone understands the importance of this project, for today and future generations.
There are number of reasons this project has worked so well but most important is the passion and determination of the core red squirrel group who have worked tirelessly to not only ensure on the ground work is completed but also building partnerships and engaging with the wider public.