Developing Community Action: the next steps

The Scottish Wildlife Trust is pleased to announce that the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project will begin a two-year transitional phase in April 2022, coinciding with the conclusion of the £4.48m ‘Developing Community Action’ phase which begun in 2017.

This more modest project phase will provide a continuation of some support in all SSRS project areas. It will be designed to help mitigate some of the challenges the project has faced, in particular those associated with Covid-19, and will enable the project to complete its aims, leaving a legacy of sustainable and community-led red squirrel conservation across Scotland.

Below is a list of volunteer FAQs that we will update as more information becomes available. Please refer to this page in the first instance, but if you have a question that is not covered here you can contact your local Conservation Officer or Community Engagement Officer, or email the project at


Last updated: 30 March 2022


Funding for the new phase comes from project partners as well as the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with the Scottish Wildlife Trust continuing to lead the project and employ SSRS staff.

The full staffing structure for the new project phase is still to be announced. The £2.46m awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund for ‘Developing Community Action’ (£4.48m total investment) was an exceptional level of funding and this next phase will involve a scaling back of staffing and resources, with a view to completing the Developing Community Action aims and phasing out the current model of repeated funding cycles. The main contacts for each project region will be:

North East – Dr Emma Sheehy (Conservation Officer)

Tayside – Ann-Marie MacMaster (Conservation Officer)

Argyll, the Trossachs and Stirlingshire – we are currently recruiting for this part-time post

South West Scotland – Kat Fingland and Victoria Chanin (Project Officers – job share)

South East Scotland – Ryan Greenwood (Project Officer)

The exact staffing structure for the new project phase is still to be announced, however grey squirrel control will continue in the following SSRS priority areas:

  • Aberdeen City and surrounds
  • The Highland Line from Helensburgh across to Montrose (seasonal Grey Squirrel Officers working March/April to August)
  • Tweeddale PARC and northern parts of the Teviot & Rule PARC
  • Nith PARC and Annan PARC (seasonal Grey Squirrel Officers working March/April to August)

It is envisaged that the trap-loan scheme will continue to operate in all current SSRS project areas. However the landscape coverage and level of support available in each area will be determined once the new project staffing structure is confirmed.

In the south, people requesting a trap loan will be directed to their local group wherever practical, and independent groups will be expected to manage the process (training, paperwork, data collection). Trust-registered groups can continue to receive support from SSRS staff where required. 

Our team will have limited capacity for public engagement, and will focus on events that help us achieve our specific project aims, such as volunteer recruitment in a priority area. Note that the project will no longer have Community Engagement Officers working in the south of Scotland, but will continue to have the support of a part-time Communications and Engagement Officer covering all project regions.

The Forestry Grant Scheme and associated funding is managed by Scottish Forestry  and the Scottish Rural Development Programme, and we are awaiting more information on how the Scheme will operate from March 2022. The level of guidance and support available from SSRS staff will be dependent on the staffing structure of the new project phase.

Yes. The Community Hub will continue to operate as normal and the Scottish Wildlife Trust will continue to provide some technical support and maintenance, albeit at a reduced capacity. Work is currently underway to provide volunteer networks more access and control of their data. The data that you have contributed to the SSRS Hub during the DCA project forms a valuable and permanent conservation resource that has already been invaluable to the project and to red squirrel conservation in the round, and will continue to help your red squirrel network to monitor and manage squirrels in your area. This data will continue to grow in importance and value the more of your data you submit, and the more you utilise the Hub data to inform your own ongoing red squirrel conservation work, so please do continue to make best use of this resource.



A very ambitious aim of the 5-Year ‘Developing Community Action’ phase was to set up and equip a network of volunteer groups in South Scotland capable of independently taking forward red squirrel conservation in the region, with the help of some central SSRS co-ordination. We have been amazed at the success in setting up 18 volunteer red squirrel networks across South Scotland, covering almost the whole footprint of the project’s Priority Areas for Red squirrel Conservation, thanks to the exceptional drive and dedication of the volunteers.
We understand that a number of the groups already have in place the following 3 criteria:

  • A constitution or Terms of Reference for the group;
  • 3 elected office bearers – Chair, Secretary, Treasurer or equivalents; and
  • A bank account in the group’s name (or funds ring-fenced within the bank account of a local Community Initiative);
  • Or, if the group is operating as a project under a local Community Trust

Once you have these in place, it is possible for the group to become an Independent Network, and will be regarded as such after the end of the current phase of SSRS at the end of March 2022. At this point Network members no longer need to be registered as Scottish Wildlife Trust volunteers (unless you have administrator privileges on the Hub or wish to volunteer for other wildlife conservation work at the Trust).

A range of resources, including guides, training videos and templates are available on the Hub’s Resources page to help groups on their journey to independence.

We recognise that some groups are not yet ready to become independent – especially after the interruptions to SSRS support brought about by the Covid restrictions and by staffing difficulties. This new project phase is intended to give the groups the additional support they need to become fully independent within the 2-year timeframe.

Independent groups can continue to enjoy full use of the Community Hub and access the wide range of training and guidance resources that have been produced during the DCA phase. A range of templates are also available on the Hub’s Resources page to help independent groups get set up.

Subject to staff availability, some limited support may also be available for those independent groups that need additional help establishing a fully operational grey squirrel control team, i.e. training for Network trainers and assistance with recruitment of volunteer grey squirrel control coordinators.

However, members of independent groups will no longer be registered Trust volunteers when carrying out red squirrel conservation work on behalf of the group. If you are currently a registered Trust volunteer and your group becomes independent you will be de-registered (unless you have administrator privileges on the Hub or wish to volunteer for other wildlife conservation work at the Trust). Independent groups are advised to register all their members  – a range of templates are available on the Resources page. This will be an essential step to ensuring each volunteer is covered by the group’s own insurance.

It should also be noted that SSRS will no longer be in a position to provide the financial support that has been available during the Developing Community Action phase.

Members of groups that will receive additional SSRS support can continue to be registered Scottish Wildlife Trust volunteers and will therefore be able to claim mileage expenses and be covered by the Trust’s insurance for volunteering activities. Thanks to the additional funding secured, some staff support will also be available to assist groups on their journey to independence, albeit at a reduced level. For example:

  • Setting up and coordinating a grey squirrel control team within the group
  • Grey squirrel control training, including dispatch and setting up trap loans
  • Volunteer recruitment and registration
  • Volunteer paperwork (SSRS/SWT forms)
  • Facilitating cross-collaboration between network groups
  • Claiming mileage expenses

All groups will also continue to have full use of the Community Hub and access to the wide range of training and guidance resources that have been produced during the DCA phase.


What won’t be available?

Due to reduced funding there will be no maintenance budgets during the transitional phase. This means that SSRS will no longer be able to purchase equipment or bait for groups, regardless of their independence status. Fundraising guidance and support is available via the Resources page on the Hub, and through the Forum.

Independent networks will no longer be registered Trust volunteers and therefore will need to have in place its own group insurance to cover its activities. The Red Squirrel Forum for South Scotland or your SSRS Community Engagement Officer will be able to offer some guidance.

Networks which do not yet meet the criteria for independence will continue to operate as registered Trust volunteers and will therefore be covered by insurance, with a view to transitioning to full independence within the 2-year period.

Yes. From April we will begin the process of de-registering volunteers from independent groups and destroying paperwork as appropriate, in accordance with GDPR guidelines. This will not affect your account on the Community Hub. 

If you have admin access to the Hub, or if you volunteer elsewhere within the Scottish Wildlife Trust, you will not be de-registered. Instead, your information will simply be updated. 

Important note: Independent groups should register all their members to ensure they are covered by the group’s insurance. Template volunteer registration forms and induction paperwork are available on the Hub’s Resources page.  

There are two ways a group can be linked to their local initiative: by having their funds stored there or by being an actual project of the initiative.
If your funds are stored with the initiative, then that counts as your bank account only – so depending on whether you also have a constitution and office bearers, you may be regarded as independent.

If you are an actual project under your local initiative, you will be considered independent.

If your network is independent but you have additional admin rights on the SSRS Community Hub (e.g. you are a group administrator or you verify squirrel sightings) you will continue to be a registered Scottish Wildlife Trust for your Hub activities only.

What additional SSRS equipment and merchandise (if any) can be given to volunteer networks will be decided after the structure of the next project phase is confirmed. Note that these items, including vehicles and IT equipment, remain the property of the Scottish Wildlife Trust and may be redistributed to other projects or sites within the Trust.