Healthy Hedgerows

Holnicote Ranger holding a sleeping dormouse

The Holnicote estate has received a £5,500 Heritage Lottery Fund grant to fund our Healthy Hedgerows project. Amongst the work it will help fund is a study of the endangered dormouse in hedgerows, and we need your help.

Why ‘Healthy Hedgerows’?

Hedgerows act as corridors allowing wildlife to move between isolated habitats, as well as being an important habitat in their own right and home to many critters. By understanding the network of hedgerows and woodlands on the estate, priority can be put on improving the management of key hedgerows to increase connectivity for all wildlife and for dormice in particular.

Where are the dormice?

The dormice surveying season has its peak in September, with activity dropping off sharply in October and ceasing with the first frosts as they go into hibernation. This currently gives us the opportunity to survey for other small mammals throughout the winter, like the wood mouse.
By late summer the hard work of the project volunteers means we will have a good idea of dormice distribution and have motivated volunteers to keep an eye on hedgerows linking dormice sites across the project area. Now that the months are warmer, the dormice of Holnicote are waking up.

Dormice will be a key focus species for the project. The Trust will use the funding to understand more about their use of hedgerow habitats. They have already been found in many of the woods on the estate, one of which – Blackford Wood – is currently being monitored as part of the ‘National Dormouse Monitoring Programme.’

What does this mean for Holnicote?

The grant will help us study farmland hedgerows in Porlock Vale, assessing the general health of the hedgerows, working out where the dormice are and who else is calling the hedgerows ‘home’. With large variations of land types including moor, wood, farm and coast, Holnicote offers an ideal place to develop understanding of links between hedgerows and high conservation value woodlands.
The information gathered will allow us to assess how connected the dormice habitats are, contributing to the National Trust’s strategy aims of creating sites that are bigger, better and more joined up for nature.