Our Plan to help dormice

Dormice are already extinct in some areas of the UK, having once been widespread throughout much of Britain. Our Dormice in Danger Appeal aims to help reverse this devastating decline at a local level.

Our dormouse project has three main elements:

  1. Enhance dormouse habitat by managing the woodlands on our nature reserves with existing dormouse populations.
  2. Monitoring work through the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme (NDMP) to monitor breeding success as well as population size.
  3. Work in the wider countryside to create corridors of habitat to link sites with existing dormouse populations to increase dispersal. 

Dormice are currently found at the following nature reserves:

  • Forest of Dean – Dormice populations are scattered throughout our Wye Valley nature reserves; Lancaut, Hobb’s Quarry, and Poors Allotment.
  • South Gloucestershire - Lower Woods and Midger
  • Sapperton Valley – Siccaridge Wood and Strawberry Banks 

We will enhance dormouse habitat through:

Hazel Coppicing

  • A traditional method of woodland management which takes advantage of the new tree growth from the stump or roots when cut down. Coppiced woodland is divided into ‘copses’ and each copse is felled on a 10-15 year rotation. This work is carried out over the winter months when dormice are hibernating.
  • How does this help dormice? Coppicing on a 10 – 15 year rotation results in a mosaic of woodland habitat, with areas of different age and growth and a woody understorey, which is what is important for dormice. Hazel also produces the best fruits and nuts within the first 10 - 15 years – ideal for feeding dormice. If a hazel gets too old, the nuts are no longer useful for feeding dormice.

Hedgerow management

  • To allow dormice to forage and move between sites.

Woodland ride enhancement

  • Linear rides through woodland are not always suited to dormice, we’ll ensure rides are curved with overhanging branches to allow dormice to move across the rides through the trees.

Woodland thinning

  • Allows increased sunlight to get to the forest floor, which will increase ground flora, creating cover and food opportunities for dormice.

Deer fencing

  • Installed to protect newly coppiced stools from deer grazing.

We will monitor dormouse numbers through:

  • Putting up 300 dormouse nest boxes - Nest boxes are used to monitor dormice population numbers, through surveys carried out by experts during the summer and early autumn. The results of these surveys are fed into the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme (NDMP). A national monitoring programme that has been running for the past 25 years.
  • Nest boxes monitoring also allows for breeding success to be monitored, when surveyed dormice are weighted and sexed and the breeding condition of the males can give an indication of the breeding success.
  • The boxes are similar to bird boxes, but with the entrance hole at the back of the box facing the tree to allow the dormouse traveling up or down the tree trunk to enter.
  • The boxes provide additional shelter for dormice and so offer a great way to detect them.
  • Monitoring helps to know that our woodland management is taking effect.
  • A dormouse handling licence from Natural England is required to carry out nest box surveys and so only experts are allowed to survey and handle dormice.