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Stronghold forests are large areas of coniferous and mixed forest identified as having the potential to sustain resilient and healthy populations of red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) over the long-term. With suitable planning and management the woodland composition and layout should provide the native red squirrel with a competitive advantage over the introduced North American grey squirrel (S. carolinensis) and strongholds should be defendable if grey squirrels arrive. Strongholds would therefore act as red squirrel refuges even if grey squirrels continue to extend their range in Scotland. This management guidance follows five general principles which support the defining aim of strongholds – to use woodland management to maintain a healthy self-sustaining population of red squirrels. It outlines management objectives and options with regard to tree species choice and forest operations, but the suitability of specific options will need to be decided locally for individual strongholds.

Publication type
UKFS Practice Note


Publication owner
Forestry Commission Scotland