Protected Species | Hazel Dormouse
Peak Ecology can provide expert advice and site surveys for any project with the potential to impact on hazel dormice or their habitat.
Hazel dormice have a restricted distribution around the UK, with the main populations identified in southern England and Wales, with only scattered populations further north. They spend most of their life in the trees or scrub and live in well connected habitats so that they can move around without coming into contact with the ground. Although they are most often associated with hazel trees, they do forage on a variety of berries and nuts and so are not restricted to hazel-dominated woodlands.
If work is required within a woodland site thought likely to be within the dormouse’s natural range, Peak Ecology would first recommend a habitat assessment by an experienced ecologist. At the same time, a search for the characteristically knawed hazelnut shells would be undertaken, as this is the quickest and easiest method of confirming the presence of dormice. These surveys are best undertaken between September and December, as the nuts are likely to retain their form during this time. Outwitth this period, nuts may begin lose their characteristics, and confirmation of dormouse presence or likely absence becomes difficult.
Peak Ecology can also install nest boxes/tubes during the dormouse active period (April to October). These would then be monitored by a licensed dormouse surveyor for signs of dormouse activity.
If necessary, licences for work on sites where dormice may be affected can be applied for by Peak Ecology, on behalf of the client and also mitigation strategies to satisfy both the statutory authorities and the local planning authority.
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Dormouse | Case Study
Fountains – Vegetation Clearance on Railway Cutting Slopes – Carmarthen, South Wales
Working closely with the client and the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), now Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Peak Ecology carried out a survey of dormouse activity on a number of areas of scrub vegetation growing along a railway line. The vegetation had to be cleared on health and safety grounds, even though it was occupied by the legally protected hazel dormouse.
Following the completion of the survey and site meetings with CCW, a mitigation strategy was agreed and a licence was granted by CCW. Under the conditions of the licence, which included supervision of the works by Peak Ecology, Fountains were able to clear the scrub sufficiently without harm to any dormice.