Our red squirrel project started with a past pupil asking "Why can't we keep monkeys in our Woodland?" This started a debate about what native species actually lived in our school grounds and how we could use our Woodland to help native wildlife thrive. We researched and came up with an idea to bring red squirrels into the school grounds. Through 2 years of research, building up action plans, seeking advice and eventually establishing links with other groups, we eventually got speaking to Belfast Zoo, who have been breeding red squirrels for release for quite a while.
As we discussed the idea, and through the zoo team visiting the site, and then our Eco committee visiting them we agreed on creating a partnership whereby our school would keep and breed red squirrels in collaboration with the zoo, and DAERA would oversee release back into existing colonies across Northern Ireland.
The project allows the school to get involved in real conservation of a priority species, giving our children and the wider community amazing access to observe and learn about red squirrels. The project also allows us to showcase the amazing diversity of animals that call our school grounds home, there are even a lot of protected species!