ECOSA have extensive experience in surveying for hazel dormouse to identify key breeding, foraging and commuting habitat. Using our survey data to devise appropriate mitigation strategies, we have successfully attained many Natural England licences for development works affecting hazel dormouse and their habitat. For large schemes, the hazel dormouse population may need to be monitored using nesting boxes as part of mitigation.
In the UK over the last 100 years, hazel or common dormouse numbers and distribution across Britain have seen significant declines, primarily as a result of habitat loss. Dormice are fully protected under UK and European legislation making it illegal to, intentionally or by not taking enough care:
Activities that may affect hazel dormice include handling, disturbance including noise and light, woodland and hedgerow management or removal. In most cases, harm to individual dormice their habitat or access to their habitat can be avoided beginning with appropriate surveys to establish the population present and applying for a mitigation licence. Mitigation works include habitat creation and enhancement and habitat management to persuade animals to disperse to a suitable alternative site away from the development area.
Survey methods include nesting box and tube surveys with monthly visits by a licensed ecologist carried out through the summer months and nut search surveys in the autumn; see our survey timetable for details. The number and distribution of the nesting tubes, or boxes, and the sequence of months over which the survey is conducted must achieve adequate 'points' according to the standard methodology to be considered reliable. Once dormice are found, it must be assumed that they are present in all suitable habitat on the site.