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Nature lovers are being invited to give rare dormice a helping hand in Chambers Farm Wood.
Repairs have been carried out on nearly 60 wooden nesting boxes which the tree climbing creature uses to rear its young during summer and willing volunteers are needed to help erect them in the 360 hectare (900 acre) woodland, near Wragby, Lincs.
The free event takes place on Saturday 6 February, from 10am to 3pm. Booking is required on 01526 398182 (evenings).
The Forestry Commission beauty spot – part of the Bardney Limewoods National Nature Reserve – became home to Lincolnshire’s only known dormice colony after 32 captive bred adults were released eight years ago.
Since then the animal has gone from strength to strength according to experts like Anne Goodall, one of the team monitoring its progress. She said:
“We inspect the boxes between May and September and on average we have been finding between four and six dormice at home each month over the last couple of years. That’s a really good result. It’s impossible to estimate the overall population in Chambers, but we do know that in the coppiced areas which the animal prefers we have a very healthy colony. The boxes allow us to keep tabs on the population and the health of individual dormice, so by helping us to get them out into the wood in good time people will be doing a really important job.”
Each nest box is given a special “GPS” address so conservationists know where to find them amongst the trees and so any forestry operations can steer well clear. Although the diminutive creature is only about nine centimetres long from snout to tail, each female dormouse requires a territory of around one hectare (2.5 acres) to find enough food for herself and her young through the year, including flower seeds, fruits and nuts.
Forester Wally Grice said:
“Managing the habitat correctly is important for dormice and over the next few weeks we will begin further coppicing work in Chambers. That involves cutting back tree stems, which encourages trees like hazel to produce a healthy crop of nuts, favoured by the creature. We’ll also cut back other species like lime and blackthorn. This kind of woodland management dates back hundreds of years. Not only does it produce a sustainable supply of timber, but it also produces a vibrant place for wildlife.”
NOTES TO EDITOR
Forestry Commission England is the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive woodlands. To find out more about the region’s woods log-on to www.forestry.gov.uk/eastmidlands
Richard Darn on 01226 246351. Mobile: 0775 367 0038.