RED squirrel numbers are on the rise in Cumbria after a caravan park implemented protective practices to protect the threatened species.

Ambleside-based Skelwith Fold is to plant a range of Scots pine trees, which will provide nuts and seeds for the reds and are ideal habitats for pine martens - the deadly enemy of grey squirrels.

Red numbers decreased over the recent years due to the influx of grey squirrels from North America, but these trees are set to help spread pine martens, which prey on greys from Scotland to Cumbria.

Jon Boston, a park spokesman, said: “Cumbria has seen an increase of red squirrels in the past year.

“The species, which is native to British, was hit hard over the past 20 years after the Squirrelpox virus massively decreased the red numbers.

“Pine martens pray on greys because they are bigger and easier to catch.

“Reds aren’t as easy to catch because they’re lighter and quicker, which allows them to get to the end of branches where the martens can’t follow.”

According to Mr Boston, red squirrels are less dependent than greys on foraging woodland floors, so are less likely to be captured by pine martens.

Henry Wild, whose family have owned the130-acres park for more than 20 years, said the Scots pines - which are native to Britain - will grow to more than 100-foot tall, and will still be providing a reprieve for the reds in 500 years time.

Mr Boston added: “The work Skelwith Fold has been doing over the past 20 years has been phenomenal.

“They’ve really turned the tide for the red squirrels, which are an iconic animal for not just Cumbria, but the whole of the UK.”

He said one of Beatrix Potter’s writings, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, is based on red squirrels, after she was exposed to the red-furred animal during her time living in Cumbria.

Due to Skelwith Fold’s commitment to the natural world, the site earned the prestigious David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level.