The hazel dormouse got its common name not only because it spends more than half its life asleep but also because of its association with hazel coppice. Coppice interspersed with standard trees use to be a common style of woodland management which favoured dormouse.
Products made from coppice wood included hurdles, thatching spars and pea sticks.The timber from the standard trees was used for structural building.
Many woods now have a higher value for amenity use rather than timber product and are reverting to high forest, a habitat which doesn’t favour dormice. However efforts are being made in a number of counties to reinstate the old coppice regime in some woodlands.
There have been changes to the Habitats Regulations for protected species. General information on the amendments to the new regulations is available on the Forestry Commission website.
The Forestry Commission have also produced information specific to dormice entitled: Guidance on managing woodlands with dormice in England which includes the following (see end note):
Good practice for managing woodland with dormice
This good practice guidance for routine woodland operations should maintain or improve the habitat for dormice and minimises the risk of harming individuals or damaging their breeding sites or resting places. If you follow this good practice, and carry out the operations as described here, we would not expect you to require a protected species licence.
Harvesting– in favourable habitat for dormice avoid any harvesting operations from early June to mid-August to ensure breeding animals are not disturbed. The recommended time of year to work in favourable habitat is in the autumn and the scale of any proposed operations must recognise the sensitivity of this habitat for dormice. In more marginal habitat, containing a mix of favourable and unfavourable features, which may contain much lower densities of dormice, any harvesting operations between June and mid-August should be restricted to 10% of the area of marginal habitat available. Outside of the breeding period follow the felling and thinning guide as outlined below. In unfavourable habitat for dormice harvesting can proceed at any time of year, unless there is obvious evidence that dormice are present.
Felling – Avoid felling more than a third of the area of habitat in the woodland, less for small woods, and retain remaining areas of habitat for at least 5 years.
Thinning – Do not thin more than two-thirds of the area of suitable habitat in one year and leave the remaining undisturbed for several years.
Extraction – where possible extract material using a forwarder rather than a skidder to reduce the risk of damaging nests on or near the ground.
Coppicing – ensure coppicing is undertaken while dormice are hibernating (November to early March). Coppice no more than 25% of the area of habitat in any one year, and ideally less. Avoid unnecessary disturbance of the ground, where dormice may be hibernating.
Site preparation – try to avoid scarification or burning up of brash, but if it is necessary, ensure all site preparation is done before the area becomes suitable habitat – ideally within a few months of felling.
Mowing and swiping regimes – to limit the risk only mow areas of existing short vegetation; restrict swiping to the early autumn.
Scrub cutting – If rideside and other scrub does have to be cut then aim to do this in winter and only treat a small proportion of the area in any one year. Maintain branch connectivity at intervals over rides and tracks.
Track construction or other ground-works – avoid undertaking such activities during June to August and, where possible, take routes around areas of highest quality habitat.
END NOTE: This information has been published by the Forestry Commission in an effort to provide guidance for woodland management in areas where dormice may be present. Please note that these documents are interim only and should be finalised some time.
|Natural England have produced Dormouse: European protected species which gives some habitat guidance
Natural England Species Information note SIN005
|DORMOUSE CONSERVATION HANDBOOK|
|General and specific advice and habitat management|
|THE SCRUB MANAGEMENT HANDBOOK|
|A Natural England publication that gives specific advice on how to manage scrub
Contents, Introduction, Value of Scrub, Planning for Management
Scrub communities, Scrub profiles Alder to Honeysuckle
Scrub communities, Scrub profiles Ivy to Yew
Management techniques, Survey and monitoring
|MANAGING SMALL WOODLANDS FOR DORMICE|
|Woodland management for small woodland owners offering best practice to comply with European Habitat reglations.|
There is an excellent website at Hedgelink which gives lots of information on the UK’s native hedges, hedgerow conservation and hedge management. They have also produced a useful leaflet on the hedgerow_management_cycle.
New ways are being investigated to mechanically managed hedgerows for wildlife
Habitat Management News from British Wildlife gives some advice on how pollarded hazel may benefit dormice.
PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
Working Around Dormice A guide from Bedslife (Bedforshire) giving information for planners and practitioners
An important document from Suffolk showing how specific habitat management for dormice will gain points on ELS or HLS– this document is due to be updated shortly (August 2010)
NEST TUBES AND BOXES
If you would like to have a go at building your own dormouse box there are plans available. There are also some plans for building a small mammal trap designed with dormice in mind. If you would prefer to let someone else build them for you Kent Mammal Group produces some good boxes at a reasonable price.
Questionnaire for farmers and landowners to guage their interest in dormice and the grants they are receiving
Information from Natural England on how to protect dormice while controlling rodents