Press Office


Encouraging people to see red


Budding film-makers are being invited to take part in a new project designed to celebrate one of the UK’s most iconic native species – the red squirrel.

Sciurus vulgaris – the red squirrel - is the only species of squirrel native to England, arriving here 10,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age.  But since the introduction of the grey squirrel from North America in 1876, the population has been in rapid decline falling from a onetime high of around 3.5 million to a current population size of just 15,000 in England.

Work is underway to protect the remaining populations, which are largely clustered around the North of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Now Newcastle University’s David Green, a PhD student in Computing Science, together with Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE) is launching a competition to celebrate the red squirrel and highlight the threat to it.

Calling on anyone with a passion for protecting red squirrels, the team are looking for anything from photographs and poetry to footage captured on a mobile phone that might be used to create a documentary.

“The aim of the competition is to bring together a wide range of experiences and knowledge to create a documentary that highlights the issues facing the red squirrel population through the eyes of those who know them best,” explains David, who has worked in documentary film and video production for over 10 years.

“The quality of the materials can – and should – be varied. We are interested in beautiful, glossy, submissions, of course, but we would also like to see shaky, hand-held videos showing interesting – or even mundane – behaviour. The idea is to represent as broad a picture as we can.”

Red squirrels are mainly dispersed in England throughout the north with Kielder Forest, in Northumberland, supporting around 60% of the total population.

Katy Cook, of RSNE, said: “We are excited to be taking part in this innovative project to document the story of red squirrel conservation.

“For the first time, we’ll be able to hear directly from those involved in the story of why so many individuals and communities are dedicated to saving our native and endangered red squirrel.

“If you have anything to do with any aspect of squirrel conservation in the north of England, from events, fundraising or awareness all the way through to active conservation work, or you simply enjoy taking photos of them, we’d love you to enter!”

People can enter individually or as a group and every entry has a chance of being included in the final film.  Deadline for entries is midnight on 28 July and winners will be selected in August by a judging panel including Dr Phil Gates from BBC Wildlife Magazine and Northumberland-based award-winning young photographer Will Nicholls.

Entrants will also be invited to take part in the production of the film, via a series of free, open workshops run by Newcastle University.

More information about the project and details of how to get involved can be found at:

published on: 15 May 2013