jh ecology can advise on all aspects of dormouse survey and mitigation. We undertake dormouse surveys primarily in the South-west including: Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire; but we also carry out dormouse surveys across the South-east including: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, London, Oxfordshire, Surrey and Sussex; and the Midlands including: Birmingham, Herefordshire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. We produce dormouse survey reports to accompany planning applications and design dormouse mitigation measures to satisfy planning authorities and prepare dormouse mitigation licence applications for submission to the statutory nature conservation organisations.
The hazel dormouse is a nocturnal species, generally associated with woodland, hedgerow and scrub habitats. It spends most of its time climbing among tree / shrub branches in search of food, and rarely comes to the ground, except when they hibernate. Habitat loss and fragmentation of woodland habitat as a result of forestry, urbanisation and agriculture have contributed to the severe decline of hazel dormice in terms of population and distribution. They are distributed primarily across southern England and Wales, and patchily distributed across the Midlands, Cheshire and Yorkshire.
Dormice are European Protected Species under The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and are also protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (WCA) 1981 (as amended). These pieces of legislation make it an offence to: capture, kill or disturb hazel dormice or disturb, block access to or damage / destroy any place used for shelter or protection by hazel dormice.
Dormouse surveys are required where the distribution and historical records suggest dormice may be present, and / or the development will affect an area of woodland, hedgerow or scrub suitable for dormice habitat. jh ecology can advise on all aspects of hazel dormouse survey and mitigation. We will typically conduct an initial site appraisal to identify the potential for dormice to be present on a site, and therefore the need for more detailed survey involving:
- Visual searches for dormouse nests and opened (hazel) nuts.
- Nest tube and box surveys.
The choice of survey method will be dictated by the amount of habitat loss; however, in the event a hazel dormouse mitigation licence is required (see below), only nest tube / box surveys are acceptable.
Please refer to our Ecological Survey Calendar for seasonal constraints to undertaking hazel dormouse surveys.
Dormouse Mitigation & Licensing
Where dormice are found on site, then it is assumed that they will be present on all suitable habitats on site. If dormouse habitat will be affected by development, then a hazel dormouse mitigation licence will be required from the statutory nature conservation organisation (e.g. Natural England) ahead of works commencing.
jh ecology can prepare a hazel dormouse mitigation licence application on your behalf and design and implement site specific mitigation measures to reduce any negative effects on dormice.
Wherever possible a project should be designed to avoid negative impacts on dormice by retaining and protecting habitats within the development. However, we understand that this is not always possible and we are able provide advice on mitigation and compensation measures to reduce impacts on dormice, including:
- Vegetation clearance undertaken at an appropriate time of year to displace dormice (moving dormice by means of translocation should only be seen as a last resort, when the scale of the project does not allow for displacing dormice, or there is no suitable habitat next to the site for dormice to move to*).
- Restoring, enhancing or creating new habitats such as: planting native hedgerows, scrub and trees to create corridors linking habitats; restoring derelict coppice and undertaking woodland thinning to promote understorey growth and increase fruiting; and installing dormouse nest boxes to replace / create new nesting sites.
*Moving dormice by translocation can only be undertaken as a mitigation measure once a suitable receptor site has been identified. It is not possible to translocate dormice into a site where there is already a dormice population.
jh ecology is experienced in preparing and advising clients on dormouse mitigation strategies and licence applications and where the project requires can provide the following services:
- Legal compliance advice, including preparation of licence applications.
- Design of mitigation measures to avoid / reduce the risk of harm to dormice during and post-works including habitat manipulation to persuade dormice to leave the area.
- Design of compensation measures including improving existing habitat and new habitat creation (such as hedgerows, scrub and woodland).
- ‘Tool-box’ talks to site contractors and ecological clerk of works (i.e. ECoW).
- Post-mitigation population monitoring and site management advice.
Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01823 618 451 for further advice or help.