The Head of Cumbria Wildlife Trust Appointed Trustee of leading National Red Squirrel Charity

Dec 4, 2020 | General News

The Red Squirrel Survival Trust appoints Stephen Trotter, Chief Executive of the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, to the national charity as Trustee.

Seeking to save the native Red Squirrel from extinction, the Red Squirrel Survival Trust has recently appointed Stephen Trotter, CEO of Cumbria Wildlife Trust to the charity’s Board of Trustees. Given his longstanding commitment to nature and decades of expertise as a steward of British wildlife, Stephen is expected to further enhance the impact the charity can make in protecting Red Squirrels.

With a national reputation for successful environmental work, Stephen’s appointment will directly benefit the charity’s long-term goals by ensuring the best practice in the management and direction of the charity’s resources. Already chair of the UK Squirrel Accord’s Red Squirrel Conservation Committee, Stephen also benefits from experience developing a coordinated approach across the UK for sharing successful lessons.

Speaking about his new role, Stephen Trotter now Trustee of RSST, said: “It is a great honour. I am privileged to be asked to join RSST. The organisation has a great reputation nationally and I am delighted to be joining. It is a critical time for red squirrel recovery and I am going to help in every way I can to develop this very exciting work.”

With extensive experience in species conservation, Stephen has been an advocate for Red Squirrels since the 1980s when he started his career in Northumberland as a National Trust warden working on survey and monitoring, and public engagement initiatives. More recently, he led the Red Squirrel strategy and policy for the Wildlife Trust and now heads the efforts across Cumbria.

Stephen reflects on his current motivations to provide this leadership: “I can’t imagine a Cumbria without its iconic red squirrels – they just belong here. Losing them here would be like losing the ravens from the Tower of London, it is simply unthinkable. We must protect the remaining populations of red squirrels and promote their recovery across their former range in Northern England, as they’re extremely vulnerable and could be lost from the region in just a few years.”

The first job on his list is to help provide a focused energy for Red Squirrel conservation and raise the profile of RSST’s work: “I think RSST has a vital role to play in helping to support, deliver, coordinate and facilitate the conservation effort for red squirrels at all levels across the UK. There’s a real need for a dedicated and influential organisation like RSST which can champion the interests of red squirrels to decision-makers at a national level.”

As Trustee of RSST, Stephen will work to accelerate fundraising efforts and promote nation-wide awareness. To survive, Red Squirrels need support from local communities and the public to fund a range of projects, including on the ground work and ongoing innovative research. Facilitating investment will help drive progress on a non-lethal and game-changing fertility regulation measure for grey squirrel populations. This is seen as vitally important because the greys are solely responsible for transmitting the usually fatal Squirrel Pox virus, and cause untold economic and environmental damage to trees through bark-stripping behaviours.

Stephen explains that a promising research programme is already underway: “RSST has demonstrated its role as a successful and significant fundraiser. It has catalysed the grey squirrel fertility management programme which is currently being delivered in partnership with Defra, the UK Squirrel Accord and the Animal and Plant Health Agency. This is a world-leading approach for dealing with invasive species that has only been possible because of RSST’s hard work.”

In the run up to Red Squirrel Awareness Week, which begins on the 21st September, this new appointment will refocus the spotlight on ongoing UK conservation activities and the plight of the Red Squirrel across the British Isles. With the pressures of the ecological emergency becoming clearer by the day, RSST’s seven-day campaign will seek to highlight the need to take action now. The public can help by donating to the RSST joining a local Red Squirrel volunteer group, tuning in for the planned webinars (hosted by the UK Squirrel Accord), or engaging across social media to spread awareness.

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