Pine Marten making return to local woods

Woodland survey detects Pine Marten's return to parts of Mid & East Antrim.
Woodland survey detects Pine Marten's return to parts of Mid & East Antrim.

A survey of woodlands in Mid and East Antrim (MEA) has found that the elusive pine marten is making a comeback in the borough.

Mid and East Antrim Council along with ‘citizen scientists’ from the area and members of the Glens Red Squirrel Group have been working with scientists from Quercus of QUB over the last few months to help survey woodlands in Mid and East Antrim for red squirrels, grey squirrels and pine marten.

The survey was part of a wider Northern Ireland survey funded through the NIEL Challenge Fund and involved over 80 “citizen scientists” from across the country visiting 160 locations to look for the woodland inhabitants.

Locally, information has been gathered on the presence and distribution of the two squirrel species and pine marten have been detected in areas where they were not previously recorded.

Councillor D. Andrew Wilson, Chairperson of Mid and East Antrim Operational Committee, said: “It is very positive for the biodiversity of Mid and East Antrim that pine martens have been recorded in areas where they previously would have inhabited and Council hope to put this information to good use, to help conserve our most vulnerable wildlife such as the Red Squirrel.”

The information collected by the volunteers will contribute to a wider project looking at the conservation status of pine marten in Northern Ireland which has indicated that pine marten numbers have been increasing in various parts of the country thanks to the help of the citizen scientists.

It has also been pointed out that the information collected has added importance given increasing pine marten numbers in the Republic of Ireland have been linked to the decline of grey squirrels.

Anyone who would like more information on the project can contact the Mid and East Antrim Biodiversity Officer on 0300 1245000 or email Maurice.turley@midandeastantrim.gov.uk. Alternatively, you can visit Quercus’ Facebook page or email Dr Dave Tosh (d.tosh@qub.ac.uk)