Conservationists start work on home for rare dormouse
email@example.com Work to re-home a protected species is now under way ahead of the final stages of construction of a cycle and footpath.
The path, connecting the existing Willesborough Dykes path to Park Farm via the A2070 Hamstreet Road, was under way last year.
But the Highways Agency had to halt construction due to the presence of hazel dormice in the area.
Now volunteers from The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) group at Singleton Environment Centre and from the Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership (KSCP) have been working to create a replacement habitat for the furry critters.
A spokesman for Ashford Borough Council said: “The Highways Agency has now obtained the necessary dormice licences from Natural England, and has undertaken a programme of careful vegetation clearance along the route of the proposed path, adjacent to the A2070, which avoids harming any dormice that may be present.
“In the meantime, we have been working with Kent County Council and KSCP to create a replacement dormouse habitat on the adjacent Willesborough Dykes site.
“More than 3,800 trees and shrubs have been provided by TCV and are being planted by KSCP volunteers.
“We are currently awaiting confirmation from the Highways Agency of their intended start date for the construction of phase two of the cycle path, which we expect to be complete in late spring 2014.”
Construction was completed on the first section of the 1.6km ‘greenway’ route, running from Asda supermarket in Kimberley Way through the Willesborough Dykes, in July last year.
The hazel dormouse is one of Britain most iconic species, and was once widespread throughout the country, but the removal of hedgerows and the break-up of woodlands have resulted in their numbers declining over the past century.
TCV’s practical action group, the Wild Crew, joined with KCSP volunteers every Wednesday in January to help provide the new habitat.
The new home is comprised of hazel, hawthorn and wayfaring trees, which are all important food sources for dormice.
Holly, wild privet, blackthorn, dog rose and guelder rose have also been planted.
The route will connect Willesborough Dykes path to Park Farm via the A2070
Local dormice will be able to rest undisturbed