Woodland Damage

Damage by grey squirrels affects biodiversity, the creation and management of woodland and ultimately carbon capture

Grey squirrels strip bark from the trunks and branches of trees to feed on the nutritious sap beneath. Severe damage can kill a tree while milder cases result in bad scarring which provides an entry point for other tree pests and diseases.

Younger trees are more vulnerable to this form of attack as the bark is easier to remove.  Once the tree is ring-barked (the bark is removed all the way round the trunk) it will inevitably die. Trees between the ages of ten and fifty years are the most at risk. There are few tree species that do not suffer damage by grey squirrels.

 This destruction is not just a devastating loss of habitat for the red squirrel.  According to a report commissioned by several signatory organisations of the UK Squirrel Accord (“Analysis of the Costs of Grey Squirrel Damage”, 2021), over the next 40 years grey squirrels will cost the economy an estimated minimum £1.1 billion in damaged timber, lost carbon capture, and tree replacements. 

This report, which only covers England and Wales, does not include harder to measure impacts on landscape, public health or wildlife caused by tree loss and damage.

Grey Squirrel stripping bark from tree

As a direct result of grey squirrel activity the large-scale planting of native broadleaf trees has effectively stopped. This is an environmental as well as a commercial disaster, as mature trees play a vital role in both biodiversity and carbon capture.

Find more https://rfs.org.uk/news-list/grey-squirrels-threatening-our-woodlands-to-tune-of-1-1bn/

The film below produced by the UK Squirrel  Accord explains in greater detail the environmental damage caused by bark-stripping.

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