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Hazel Dormice and Habitat Management Training

On the 11th September 2023, two of the enims team went to Briddlesford woods on the Isle of Wight, where they learnt about hazel dormouse movements - these being mainly arboreal and active at night and how they need good managed connected woodlands and hedgerows which are used as dispersal corridors.

The day was split into two parts, firstly learning about woodland management, where hazel trees are coppiced to provide plenty of food for the hazel dormouse. During the summer breeding months, hazel dormice will be within these woodlands high up in the canopies. The course looked at how "rides" (wide open grassy walkways that create edges around managed woodlands) could be improved with shrubs such as brambles and other fruit bearing plants to provide extra food and a safe place where hazel dormice are likely to hibernate during the winter and were also briefly shown the different ways hazel dormice can be surveyed and a newer concept of a canopy bridge, connecting a gap between trees, that dormice have been using.

Secondly, learning about managing a healthy hedgerow suitable for many species, not just dormice, by using a variety of different species of shrub and trees which provide food throughout most of the year. These species include hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, holly, beech and brambles. We also learnt about different styles of growing out a hedgerow by trimming at incremental heights each year for a period of 3 to 5 years (survey dependant), then leaving it to rest for another 5 years on average. By 10 years, it is worth carrying out a hedgerow survey (then every couple of years) to check on the condition of the hedgerow to see whether there are any gaps that need addressing especially around the bottom where there is no density and the trunks are bare. If the gaps are small and mainly around the bottom of the hedge, then it is likely that the laying method will be the best route forward. However, if the gaps are too large for laying then it may be more beneficial to coppice the current ones and re-plant new ones in the gaps. Sometimes a hybrid of these two practices may be best but it would depend on budgets and availability of a suitable workforce.

This course has enable the team to develop and improve their knowledge of current and best practice which will help our current and future clients create and maintain habitats suitable for hazel dormice with our teams knowledge, confidence and support on how this can be delivered effectively on early engagement and collaboration.

We look forward to working on many more projects where we can implement our team's expertise and enthusiasm for hazel dormice and their habitats!

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