Dormice | 20 November 2023
Previously, found in all but two counties in England and Wales, hazel dormice were once alarmingly thought to be extinct in 20 English counties as a result of habitat loss and degradation.
Having been reintroduced into six of these counties in recent history, the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) recently published ‘The State of Britain’s Dormice 2023’ which highlights population trends between 1993 and 2022 as having experienced a huge 70% decrease, which is the equivalent to a 5.3% decline per annum.
Following the current trend, it is estimated that the population will have decreased by 94% from 2000 - 2030. Yet whilst they are currently considered ‘Vulnerable’ in Britain, new research indicates that dormouse in the UK should in fact be considered an ‘Endangered’ species. Exacerbated by climate change, it is believed that habitat loss and degradation are the primary drivers of this decline. As a species, dormice thrive in species-rich, structurally diverse woodlands, with scrub, shrub and ruderal habitats also considered essential to effective dormouse conservation.
With such habitats considered beneficial to a range of alternate faunal species, it is for this reason that hazel dormouse has been recognised as a flagship species for the management and conservation of woodland habitats. To this end, over the past few decades, conservation initiatives (such as the Wensleydale Dormouse Project, which restored 9.5km of dormouse habitat), and a total of 33 reintroduction programmes, have been conducted across the country.
It is, however, clear from the PTES report, that irrespective of the ranging conservation efforts made to date, more must be done for the future of dormice in the UK to remain certain.
With this in mind, the PTES are advocating the broadening of monitoring efforts to fill the knowledge gaps essential to the success of conservation initiatives, with the results of historic monitoring implying that the use of dormouse tubes and boxes may not be effective in all habitats as previously thought.
For instance, although the industry standard technique used to inform presence/likely absence of dormice on development sites, it is being suggested that dormice are less likely to use tubes and boxes in deciduous woodlands than previously thought. Some are suggesting that methods that may prove more effective are the use of camera traps, vocalisation identification, and even DNA testing of urine taken from survey tubes.
At GES, we offer a range of dormouse surveys, from habitat suitability assessments to the presence/likely absence surveys and re/translocation exercises required under EPSM licences from Natural England. If you believe your project may benefit from the application of surveys, or if you know dormice are present and are looking for effective mitigation to ensure the long-term viability of the population within your project, why not give us as a call as we would be happy to discuss.
For a full read of the 2023 State of Britain's Dormice Report from People’s Trust for Endangered Species please click here.
Like this post? Please share: