A series of digitally guided walking routes have been launched by the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project to help visitors and locals discover more about one of the country’s most iconic yet threatened mammals.
Known for their red squirrel populations, the selected sites will provide an opportunity for a wild encounter whilst learning more about the species, their habitat and efforts to protect them.
The ‘Red Squirrel Ramble’ trails guide walkers through ancient and historic woodlands, as well as scenic areas where red squirrels have made a recent comeback thanks to conservation efforts.
Interactive walks are available at Hazlehead Park in Aberdeen, Atholl Estates’ Glen Tilt in Blair Atholl, RSPB Scotland’s Loch Lomond Reserve and the Woodland Trusts’ St. Ronans Wood in Innerleithen.
They can be accessed on a mobile device through the ‘MyGeoAdventure’ app. Walkers will be guided step-by-step through their journey, prompted with quizzes, challenges and the opportunity to collect wildlife tokens.
Funded by National Lottery players, the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project operates in areas where red squirrels are most at risk from the threat of invasive non-native grey squirrels. Project Manager Dr. Mel Tonkin said:
“The walking trails are not only fantastic places to catch sight of a red squirrel in action, they are also located in the key project areas where we are working to ensure the long-term protection of this iconic Scottish species.
“The trails are designed to encourage people of all ages to get outdoors and have some fun, but we also hope they will inspire people to take action for red squirrels. There are lots of ways to get involved with the project, from reporting a squirrel sighting to joining one of our volunteer networks.”
Both red and grey squirrel sightings seen during walks can be reported to the project at scottishsquirrels.org.uk. All sightings are added to a national database that helps form the basis of long-term plans for red squirrel conservation in Scotland.