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Dormice Discoveries

Environmental conservation at Lea Wood

In August 2020, a conservation project was set in motion at Lea Wood, one of the Trust’s outdoor learning sites near Fairford. With the aim of discovering what kind of wildlife existed in the woodland, open-ended boxes were installed, ready to record the fleeting footprints of any creature that passed through on the specially designed charcoal surface.

Fast-forward to the autumn, our Game & Wildlife Management Apprentice Toby Griffin checked the boxes and made a very welcome discovery: the telltale triangular footprints of a dormouse.

This was especially good news as the dormouse is regarded as a rare and endangered species, due to the large-scale loss or abandonment of its natural habitat in recent years.

At Lea Wood, the discovery of these tiny, semi-nocturnal dormice has been a huge boost to the Estates team at the Trust, evidence that their ongoing conversation work in the woods is working. Their efforts to help preserve and conserve the dormouse population involves careful maintenance of its natural habitat – deciduous woodland with plenty of scrub and undergrowth resulting from coppicing. At Lea Wood, this is being done by coppicing hazel in a managed 5-year rotation.

Discovering dormice footprints was a fantastic outcome for this conservation project, just one of the many reasons Toby enjoys his apprenticeship role as part of the Trust’s Estate team, based at Fairford.

I love going to work every day!
Toby Griffin, Game & Wildlife Management Apprentice