Distribution & Status
The hazel dormouse Muscardinus avellenarius is found throughout much of Europe, and northern Turkey. The species is considered common and widespread throughout much of its range. However, over the last century there has been a significant decline in parts of its northern range, including the United Kingdom. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list hazel dormice as species of ‘Least Concern’ on the conservation Red List, mainly due to the stable populations in Lithuania and neighbouring countries. However, new findings from University of Exeter researchers suggest that dormice “are declining to such an extent that a precautionary approach would classify dormice as ‘Endangered’ in the UK” (Dr Cecily Goodwin).
It’s not all bad news however, The State of Britain’s Dormice 2019 report indicates that despite the steady declines witnessed at many of the UK’s dormouse sites, some populations appear to be increasing. It has long since been known that woodlands supporting dormice require a certain amount of woodland management to provide quality habitat. With the increasing pressure from development and infrastructure, fragmentation and habitat loss is slowly eating away at natural sites, fracturing the landscape and leading to islandisation.
The isolation of dormouse populations can eventually cause a reduction in genetic diversity, making the local population more susceptible to stochastic events such as disease or harsh weather. The presence of ‘wildlife corridors’ such as hedgerows, scrub banks and linear woodlands are therefore essential elements in our ever-increasing fragmented landscape, providing ecological links between smaller, isolated woodlands.
National Dormouse Monitoring Programme
The National Dormouse Monitoring Programme, more commonly named the NDMP, is managed by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species. The scheme has been running for over 25 years and incorporates more than 400 dormouse sites.
The monitoring sessions are governed by certain criteria, including the dates when the monitoring sessions are undertaken and the number of nest-boxes installed within the individual woodlands. This helps to ensure that all of the box-checks at the various locations are carried out using a standardised methodology. The aim of the NDMP is to monitor long-term dormouse population trends.
The data gained from the monitoring sessions are added to the National Dormouse Database (NDD) and used to inform dormouse conservation.
All three of the Nottinghamshire Dormouse Woodlands are registered NDMP sites.