Research shows planned expansion of conifer woodlands across the UK could have unintended consequences

Conifer plantations, which are being expanded around the UK to combat the climate crisis and foster biodiversity, are in danger of hurting one of the key species they were thought to protect: red squirrels.

The threatened red squirrels, driven to near-extinction over most of the UK by grey squirrel incursion, were thought to thrive in conifer habitats as the food sources in such forests tend to be limited to small seeded cones, which red squirrels are better at exploiting than the more generalist grey squirrels. That should mean conifer plantations prove better for red squirrels than greys.

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