Con­ser­va­tion­ists start work on home for rare dor­mouse

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Family Announcements - By Tim Collins

tcollins@thek­m­ 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.

Pic­ture: Gary Browne FM2998899

The route will con­nect Willes­bor­ough Dykes path to Park Farm via the A2070

Pic­ture: Thinkstock

Lo­cal dormice will be able to rest undis­turbed

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