The Red Squirrel South West (RSSW) Project 2014 Business Plan
Red Squirrel South West Limited
Company number 7245643
Charity number 1138484
Updated March 2014
Rosie Ball, Charles Dutton, John-Michael Kennaway & Judith Webber
Escot Estate, Ottery St Mary EX11 1LU
Executive Summary. 2
- Business Owner(s) & Product/Service. 3
- Mission Statement 3
- Fundamental actions to deliver mission. 3
3.1. Support the establishment of a network of projects and habitats in the south west (Somerset, Dorset, and Devon) conducive to the long term sustainable reintroduction and maintenance of red squirrel populations in the area by: 3
3.2. Create long term interest in and support for the health and wellbeing of the red squirrel through education and tourism by: 3
3.3. Support grey squirrel management programmes by: 3
- Public benefits of actions 3.1., 3.2. and 3.3. 4
- Organisational Structure. 4
- Contextual summary of red squirrel conservation. 4
6.1. Policy developments. 4
6.2. Threat of extinction in mainland Britain. 4
6.3. Invasive alien grey squirrels. 4
6.4. Successful reintroductions. 5
- Opportunity to demonstrate competence – the Isle of Purbeck. 5
- Projection of Business Future. 5
- Financial Summary. 5
- Pathway of actions. 6
10.1. Further development of strategic alliances with public bodies and other interested parties. 6
10.2. Development and implementation of marketing plan. 6
10.3. Development of charity infrastructure. 6
- Fundraising and Marketing Strategy. 6
11.1. Marketing and Sales Actions. 6
- Escot Breeding and Education Centre. 7
Appendix A: Successful reintroduction programmes. 8
Appendix B: Purbeck Restoration Project 8
Appendix C: Other potential identified reintroduction sites. 9
Appendix D: Development of Friends of RSSW, membership literature and infrastructure. 10
Appendix E: The development and re-launch of the RSSW web site. 10
Appendix F: Fundraising and Marketing Strategy. 11
This is a revised plan of the 2010 draft, to express the current directed interests of the charity and objective formats for achieving its aims. This document is for use by the RSSW committee only.
The Red Squirrel South West Project (RSSW) is a charity formed to restore the Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) to favourable conservation status throughout the South West of England.
This project will last between 10 and 50 years depending on how quickly it raises its initial and subsequent finance.
Initial seed money of £140,000 is sought to establish the first project in the Isle of Purbeck and to build the necessary infrastructure and galvanise the support to make the project self-financing until completion.
A network of defendable reintroduction and other sites, where existing populations can expand, have and are being identified and local support groups are being established in such areas.
The network of new and expanding red squirrel populations thus created will grow in size until eventually they meet up.
Support is being generated to promote interest in the long term health of the Red Squirrel and the building of a visitor and breeding centre.
Since conception in 2008, through launch of the concept in 2009 and first steps on the ground in 2010, popularity has been high and it is planned to use the concept of strategic alliances with aligned interests to share best practice and achieve a rapid solution.
Work on the first project at Purbeck is in its embryonic stage.
Introductions and recommendations to a number of key in-kind sponsors are sought to progress the fundraising and marketing plan.
1. Business Owner(s) & Product/Service
- RSSW has been formed by a group of wildlife conservationists with a passion for red squirrels and expertise in land owning and land management, conservation, community engagement, local government, public, business, and professional sectors and a thorough understanding of how landowners and conservationists think; how to generate support from the public; and how to run a community organisation.
It has strong links to landowners and conservationists throughout the south west and similar organizations throughout the UK and in Europe.
- The red squirrel is in danger of extinction in the United Kingdom and RSSW is a charitable organisation aiming to establish and maintain a mainland bridge population expanding from existing island populations in the south west.
2. Mission Statement
RSSW aims to build a strong network of volunteers and strategic alliances with business, public and charity sectors to deliver the restoration of red squirrels throughout the south west by supporting the establishment of new projects within the southwest and aiming to complement the work of Cornwall Red Squirrel Project (CRSP).
3. Fundamental actions to deliver mission
3.1. Support the establishment of a network of projects and habitats in the south west (Somerset, Dorset, and Devon) conducive to the long term sustainable reintroduction and maintenance of red squirrel populations in the area by:
- Identifying defendable areas of suitable habitat for red squirrels;
- Aligning ourselves, via our volunteer network, with private and public landowners and land managers and obtaining their consent for participation in the project through the removal of grey squirrels;
- Creating adequate buffer zones to keep red (Sciurus vulgaris) and grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) apart;
- Facilitating the expansion of existing populations of red squirrels;
- Encouraging habitat advantageous to red squirrels, and management of a well-balanced ecosystem.
3.2. Create long term interest in and support for the health and wellbeing of the red squirrel through education and tourism by:
- The establishment of an exemplar breeding and visitor centre for red squirrels;
- Educating the public and raising awareness about the plight of red squirrels via the breeding centre, media, internet and our volunteer network;
- Enhancing national and international squirrel group relations;
- Promoting communication and cohesion between regional red squirrel groups in the UK by continuously monitoring and sharing best practice via a project officer.
3.3. Support grey squirrel management programmes by:
- Creating, coordinating, educating, training and supporting a local volunteer network to ensure effective and realistic grey squirrel management in accordance with government guidelines.
4. Public benefits of actions 3.1., 3.2. and 3.3.
- Protection of the red squirrel from extinction in the south west;
- Providing the general public with the opportunity to observe red squirrels in a safe haven;
- Protection of the natural biodiversity of woodland ecosystems and reduction in the damage, to trees, landscape and other wildlife, caused by grey squirrels.
5. Organisational Structure
- The Red Squirrel South West Project (RSSW) is a company limited by guarantee, governed by its Memorandum and Articles of Association dated 6th May 2010.
- RSSW is registered with the Charity Commission of England and Wales (Charity number 1138484).
- Ultimate control of RSSW is exercised by the directors who are also the trustees of the charity (hereafter the trustees).
- Trustees are elected by ordinary resolution of the members, on a three year rotation, as outlined in the Memorandum and Articles of Association (next election 2017).
- The current trustees (February 2014) are:
1) John Charles Forklan Dutton
2) James Hugh Carleton Harris (Viscount Fitzharris)
3) Patrick Martin
- Regular committee meeting are held which is reported annually to the trustees.
- In due course the RSSW committee may comprise of sub committees as appropriate to focus on areas such as: fundraising, breeding and education centres, habitat assessment and profiling for grey squirrel control and red squirrel reintroduction.
6. Contextual summary of red squirrel conservation
6.1. Policy developments
- In January 2010, due to international treaty obligations (e.g. Rio Treaty and Kyoto Protocol etc), increasing public concern and their failure to achieve previous targets, DG Environment at the European Commission set a new target to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2020. It is also developing an Invasive and Alien Species (IAS) strategy as one of the tools for managing these species which may otherwise have a negative impact on achievement of their target.
- UK grey squirrel control policy is currently under fundamental review, which is hoped to open up a number of opportunities for red squirrel conservation moving forward in the southwest.
6.2. Threat of extinction in mainland Britain
Red squirrels are listed as near threatened by the IUCN. During the last 50 years Red Squirrel populations in the south of England have been reduced to the verge of extinction with the only remaining colonies on Brownsea, Green and Furzey Islands in Poole Harbour,the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands and reintroduced populations recently established on the Scilly Isles in 2013.
6.3. Invasive alien grey squirrels
- Grey squirrels cause serious damage, not only to red squirrel populations, but also to young and established woodland plantations both in economic and environmental terms. Their increasing numbers are causing growing concern amongst landowners, forestry and conservation bodies.
- Further evidence is developing of damage to songbird populations, landscape trees and other aspects of our heritage and vulnerable ecosystems.
- Grey squirrels appear to remain immune to the Squirrelpox Virus that is fatal to red squirrels, thus the presence of grey populations is a continuous threat to the survival of the red.
6.4. Successful reintroductions
There have been a number of successful reintroduction projects in other parts of the country in recent years, where important lessons have been learnt and can be duplicated (Appendix A).
7. Opportunity to demonstrate competence – the Isle of Purbeck
- With assistance from the Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST) RSSW commissioned a baseline survey of the area which identified the Isle of Purbeck as a suitable site for a project to expand the existing adjacent populations in Poole Harbour (Appendix B). There is initial support from landowners for this proposed project.
- Other sites for reintroduction have also been identified (Appendix C).
8. Projection of Business Future
- Once reintroduction and expansion projects have been established they will require constant activity and monitoring to ensure red and grey squirrels are kept apart and suitable habitat is maintained until red squirrel territories join and the red squirrel regains its secure position as the sole wild squirrel in the south west.
- This is a long term project which might last 10-50 years and as success grows could be replicated by other organisations.
- The speed of implementation of the RSSW project is closely related to the success of its fundraising.
9. Financial Summary
An initial cash injection of £ 140,000 is required to provide the basic infrastructure to enable this project to progress. Some basic requirements are necessary:
|Review and enhancement of website and other social media
|Development of RSSW network and infrastructure
|Printing of advertising literature
|Stationary and office equipment
|Promotional banners for events
|Project officer (3 years, £ 20,000 per anum)
|Pest controller (3 years, £ 20,000 per anum)
|Grey squirrel control equipment
10. Pathway of actions
10.1. Further development of strategic alliances with public bodies and other interested parties
- National Trust
- Natural England
- Dorset Wildlife Trust
- Forestry Commission
- Countryside Alliance
- Country Land and Business Association (CLA)
- Local County and other Councils
10.2. Development and implementation of marketing plan
- Review and update of social media resources, membership programme and website (Appendices D & E)
- Implementation of fundraising plan (see section 11 and Appendix F)
10.3. Development of charity infrastructure
- Employment of project officer
- Formation of subcommittees and development of project plans
- Employment of pest controller
11. Fundraising and Marketing Strategy
Further details of the sales and marketing strategy are found in Appendix F.
The continued development of this business plan will drive the co-ordination and implementation of the fundraising plan. The committee and volunteers of RSSW are key to the initial fundraising plan, which will be expanded and continued under guidance of the project officer (when recruited).
11.1. Marketing and Sales Actions
Summary of Key In-Kind Sponsors and Volunteers required (Members of the Committee are invited to broker introductions for the secretariat with suitable people as described below and explained more fully in Appendix F)
Key in-kind sponsors and volunteers who can:
- Develop a Membership Base – Through mailing lists of potential squirrel supporters (e.g. forest nurseries, Wildlife Trusts) or public entertainment and business with squirrel supporters who would organise membership activities (e.g. balls, events, dinners).
- Manage our legal and financial affairs – Lawyers and accountants who wish to do business with the people with whom RSSW comes into contact (e.g. landowners, farmers, philanthropists, financiers).
- Strategically analyse opportunities with competitors, NGO’s, public landowners, public sector etc and develop such relationships – Consultants who want business from RSSW contacts (e.g. property developers and businesses) would pay for networking opportunities to demonstrate their competence in environmental professional matters.
- Make and or advise grant applications – (e.g. forestry consultants, business consultants).
- Run Advertising and PR
- Raise public awareness for RSSW through:
- Attending county fairs and shows;
- Publicity programme via local media: newspapers and magazine articles;
- Events advertising such as fundraising dinners;
- RSSW representatives creating awareness by speaking at functions for local organisations. RSSW has already demonstrated the positive impact of this approach by speaking at the Dorset CLA AGM and BIAZA; and,
- Maintain communication and interest in RSSW developments and issues via newsletter and the website.
12. Escot Breeding and Education Centre
RSSW is based at Escot which has become the public face of the project with its walk through red squirrel enclosure which was completed in July 2011. The enclosure provides multiple education opportunities for the public and has actively breeding red squirrels (original stock being supplied by the British Wildlife Centre); acting as inspiration for current and future conservation efforts.
Appendix A: Successful reintroduction programmes
Case study – Angelsey
The red squirrel was close to extinction in 1998, but through a well organised conservation project, red squirrels have increased in numbers and also re-colonised woodlands previously only occupied by grey squirrels.
- Lessons learnt:
- Total eradication of greys within a specific area (including a buffer zone) is essential to prevent those surviving infecting the reintroduced reds with squirrel pox.
- It is essential to engage with the local community in publicising, promoting and supporting the project for the benefit of the local economy and local tourism.
- Key facilitating factors: dedicated leadership, strong community support, and a realistic policy of grey squirrel control.
Appendix B: Purbeck Restoration Project
This is a public-private partnership to create a “cordon sanitaire”, or buffer zone across the Isle of Purbeck. The buffer zone will be around 15 miles deep, with grey control concentrated on the main grey incursion routes. It ensures that red squirrels on the Isle of Purbeck are protected from the deadly squirrel pox virus.
In November 2009, Dr Craig Shuttleworth, National Operations Director for RSST (Red Squirrel Survival Trust) was commissioned by RSSW to conduct a survey on the Isle of Purbeck. This was a preliminary survey to assess the suitability of woodlands as habitat for red squirrels and feasibility of removing grey squirrels.
RSSW held a meeting of Pubeck Landowners, where a presentation was given by Dr Shuttleworth. The purpose of the meeting was to assess the level of support for a red squirrel reintroduction programme in the area and to obtain permission for Dr Shuttleworth to access private land to do the survey.
The response to the meeting was very positive, permissions were obtained, and several landowners volunteered to be directly involved in the coordination and running of a proposed Purbeck project.
- Dr Shuttleworth’s survey concluded:
- The habitats and seeds were suitable and red squirrels would naturally occur in the area had they not been wiped out by a combination of squirrel-pox and grey squirrel competition.
- There are existing red squirrel colonies on Brownsea, Furzey and Green Islands, a short distance from the coast of Purbeck;
- The geographical advantage of Purbeck being a peninsula was that there was only one side to defend against the encroachment of grey squirrels.
- It was noted that a previous attempt to reintroduce red squirrels on Goathorn peninsular in the 1990’s had been unsuccessful because of the squirrel-pox virus.
- The Rempstone Estate was earmarked as the most obvious site for red squirrel reintroduction, as it was before. However, issues to be addressed here are: heath land restoration proposals and future woodland management.
- Other sites mentioned were Arne and Lulworth. Wareham was not recommended at this stage.
- It was recommended that dialogue be opened and sensitive negotiations be undertaken with Forestry Commission, RSPB, Dorset Wildlife, National Trust, Natural England and Ministry of Defence and also with the above estates with regard to woodland management plans.
- Subsequent developments:
- The RSSW committee agreed that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that a reintroduction project on the Isle of Purbeck would be successful and that this should be actioned.
- Discussions have taken place with the Rempstone and Lulworth estates and dialogue has been opened with the above mentioned organizations. Professor Shuttleworth advised by telephone that with suitable co-ordination it would be possible to design a felling programme that would assist the migration of red squirrels from the Goathorn peninsula to suitable connecting habitat further inland.
- In Jan 2010 RSSW discovered that a dead red squirrel was found, drowned, at the Wytch Farm oil station in September 2009 which presumably had swum from one of the islands in Poole harbour.
- Strategy for implementation
- Formation of a Purbeck steering committee to include a scientific advisory body.
- Scientific advisory body to write trapping protocols.
- Public launch of the Purbeck project to arranged.
Appendix C: Other potential identified reintroduction sites
- Dunster Estate
- High Bodmin
- Wills Estate
- Central Dartmoor
- Castle Hill Estate
- North Devon (Barnstaple)
- Denny Island (Bristol)
Appendix D: Development of Friends of RSSW, membership literature and infrastructure
A well organised and persuasive membership scheme would be another powerful component in bringing about the long term success of RSSW. A membership scheme would build the foundation of the organisation’s supporters, not only providing RSSW with regular income but also providing a vehicle with which to increase the organisation’s influence and volunteer base. This is very much a community based project and its success is dependent on the work of volunteers on the ground.
In order to develop a membership scheme for RSSW we would need to:
- Design and print promotional literature for RSSW membership
- Develop methods of distribution for promotional literature (E.g. identify a key in-kind sponsor to develop contact lists and distribute literature – one has been identified, introductions to more are sought).
- Create a management system to respond to applications for membership and collection of membership fees
- Develop a membership pack and system for distribution
- Create a system for further communication with members
- Create the infrastructure to develop regular newsletters etc to be sent out to members.
Appendix E: The development and re-launch of the RSSW web site
The internet can be a very powerful tool and we believe it to be an essential component in bringing about the success of the Red Squirrel South West Project. Currently RSSW is represented through the British Red Squirrel (BRS) website (www.britishredsquirrel.org), this will continue until RSSW can finance the creation of an independent website. The BRS website needs to be updated and developed to include more detailed information of the role of RSSW, and reflect relevant areas of this business plan.
The website will aid in:
- Increasing awareness of the project.
- Educating and informing the public about the issues that threaten the survival of the Red Squirrel.
- Generating funding and support for the project through awareness, sponsorship advertising and RSSW membership.
- Keeping supporters informed about the project on a regular basis.
- Allowing supporters and volunteers to be more involved with the project and share their enthusiasm by communicating directly with us and each other on a regular basis via blogs and twitter.
- Providing information, resources and interactive communication to promote effective grey squirrel control.
- Advertising for Red Squirrel seminars and fundraising events.
- Sale of Red Squirrel merchandise and membership.
Appendix F: Fundraising and Marketing Strategy
- Competitive Analysis
|Sources of Competition
Land management services
|Pest control budgets: Forestry Research Centre, Local Authorities
Membership organisations: NT, RSPB, Wildlife Trusts etc
Land management services: Game Conservancy (GWCT), CLA, NFU
Biodiversity budgets from Natural England
Landfill/Developments/ 106 compensation funds
Sponsorship: CLA, RSPB
Economic regeneration budgets
- Work is required to analyse competitors’ objectives and plan how we can assist their success. This work will be needed on a case by case basis to analyse each opportunity.
- In-kind sponsors will be identified who will contribute free of charge to the development of this area of the business plan and fulfilling the plan to form alliances with these groups to work together for a common purpose. Members of the Committee are invited to make suitable introductions.
- There are many benefits that RSSW can deliver to other competitor organisations (e.g. added potential economic benefit to the region, positive environmental publicity, exposure to a locally concerned market and developing close involvement with volunteer and community groups).
- Target Markets
The support base (i.e. customers) and those benefiting from the work of the charity will be:
- The public: people who are concerned with environmental issues, who are also potential customers for membership, sale of merchandise, equipment, consultancy and training.
- Policymakers: government and private organisations whose decisions are influenced by scientific research and public support of environmental issues who are customers for research and community engagement schemes and anything that will save public money;
- Practitioners: landowners and managers, farmers, gamekeepers, conservationists, scientists who are customers for advice, materials, community engagement schemes and delivery of the project.
- Businesses who see tourism as an economic benefit and are customers for delivery of the project;
- Sponsors who would like to raise their environmental and other profiles by association with RSSW through events and advertising who are customers for advertising opportunities, opportunities to demonstrate competence and for organising events;
- Public grants, charitable and private donors with sympathies or outcomes aligned to the activities and objectives of RSSW who are customers for the delivery of the project objectives.
- Gaining customer support for RSSW
- “Customers” of all kinds above will usually only support RSSW because they agree with, are sympathetic to, or would like to be aligned with the following objectives, activities, ideas or values carried out or represented by RSSW:
- green tourism,
- community enhancement,
- protection of wildlife and natural beauty,
- restoration of habitats and native British species,
- reversal of the loss of biodiversity,
- community engagement,
- pest control and wildlife management.
- Customers may also see RSSW as:
- a noble cause aligned to those with a passion for managing wildlife.
- an opportunity for landowners to work together to change other people’s perceptions how to manage wildlife.
- positively and proactively making things happen and building community organisations.
- Business “Customers” would support RSSW because of the commercial benefits it might bring to their organisation:
- Sponsors of events would receive target market networking opportunities.
- Sponsors would gain positive exposure to other individuals and organisations through RSSW advertising and website.
- Satisfying customer objectives
- RSSW has already demonstrated its ability to deliver sponsored events by hosting its inaugural seminar at Maunsel House in April 2009, its Annual Review in May 2010 and the 2013 National Conference in Red Squirrel Conservation (Exeter). Sponsors for these events included: Michelmores, Pineapple-Sentry, Savills and Exeter University.
- Next Step: Members of the Committee and others to broker introductions with more key in-kind sponsors as detailed above.
- Public grants
- Grants need to be identified for their suitability to support prospective RSSW projects; until a project officer is recruited, the committee and volunteers of RSSW will be responsible for seeking grants and managing their application.
- Businesses who specialise in obtaining such grants will be approached and invited to act as sponsors by donating this service in-kind or for a small commission.
- Next Step: Members of the Committee and others to broker introductions with key in-kind sponsors and research potential grants to be applied for.
- Private and Charitable donors
- Potential donors need to be identified and a strategy for application implemented in conjunction with the business in-kind sponsors of RSSW. Members of the Committee and others are invited to broker introductions with key in-kind sponsors who specialise in this work and potential donors.
- Development of a RSSW membership scheme “Friends of RSSW” (Appendix D) will aid in facilitating recruitment of individual donors, for single and regular financial contributions to the charity.