The red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) in Ireland plays a crucial role in the ecosystem, contributing to seed dispersal and influencing forest regeneration. They are protected under the Wildlife Act (1976) and Wildlife (Amendment) Acts (2000 & 2010) and the Bern Convention (Appendix III). As a native species, it has faced challenges from the introduction of the non-native grey squirrel, which outcomes in food resources and transmits diseases to the red squirrel.
They prefer coniferous forests, but they are adaptable and can establish habitats in mixed deciduous and coniferous woodlands, large gardens, and parks. These areas offer an ample supply of their primary food source, mainly consisting of seeds.
In terms of protection during construction, it is essential to consider the red squirrel’s habitats. Construction activities can impact their habitats directly by removing trees and altering the landscape. Mitigation measures should focus on minimising habitat disruption, preserving key foraging areas, and providing safe corridors for their movement. Additionally, the construction process should adhere to guidelines to prevent harm to these squirrels and their nests.