Oct 29 Taking care of dormice and butterflies By Tracy

One of the endless topics that woodland owners has is managing woodland for wildlife. Creating wildlife areas for one creature has an impact on another! Today I went for a walk with Steve Wheatley from Butterfly conservation and Ian White from PTES (dormice officer – great title!) to talk about some of the issues.

Mike and I have started to coppice along the rides, to let more light into the woods.

We started this with Butterflies in mind….
and as always, we know it will have an impact on other species- like dormice.

The light corridors into the woodland will be great for the butterflies. We are working hard to leave honeysuckle for them and create scallops (gaps) along the path for the warmth and the light. The butterflies will find new food sources and be able to travel around the woodland.

What about the dormice? They will like the food that will grow in the shrub layer, especially brambles, however, they travel in the tree tops – so the danger of coppicing rides is that we could inadvertently cut off areas of the wood. Ian’s advice was to ensure we left ‘pinch points’ frequently along the path. This would continue the connectivity of the woodlands.

He also suggested that at the edge of the woodland we leave some mature trees to fruit and create a network. Hazel nuts are especially good. As we open up the edge of the woodland at the entrance of the ride, we should try to leave a couple of trees to act as an archway too.  This gives the dormice a way across the path and still lets the light in for the butterflies.

In the SE woodlands,  in coppice, we must all assume we do have dormice and act accordingly. They are a priority species and damaging their habitat can get us in trouble! Coppice at the correct time of year (winter) leave any alone that you might see and ensuring you leave connecting areas of trees is a good start.

Remember that you need a licence to handle dormice, so if you find one, don’t touch it!

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