The Carmarthenshire volunteer team have had a great opportunity this month to get stuck into a really exciting project to improve the local landscape for a population of dormice on one of our nature reserves- Rhos Cefn Bryn, near Llannon, in Carmarthenshire.
As reported in previous editions of this e-newsletter, the population of dormice had been subject to a recent four-month field study by our PTES-funded intern, Richard Pond. Richard looked at the quality and connectivity of the habitat all around our reserve, and searched for signs of dormice themselves, to establish how they are using the landscape around our own, relatively restricted, landholding. The study also identified opportunities to improve that landscape, trying to find ways of connecting and improving isolated areas of habitat and therefore improving the potential to secure their long-term future.
One of the opportunities he identified was to improve a particular hedgerow about two fields away from the dormouse copse on our own land. The hedgerow at the time of the survey was effectively a line of semi-mature oak trees, with little shrubbery and poor connectivity for dormice, on account of the fact that the field in which it lies is quite heavily grazed by some very curious and friendly horses and ponies!
The owners of the fields have very kindly given WTSWW permission to fence off the hedgeline, to keep out the grazing, allowing us to restore a more traditional hedgerow structure. We were also very fortunate with an application for funding through the county LBAP partnership, to receive money from the Carmarthenshire Environment Partnership, which is now funding us to undertake the necessary management.
So, on a damp and muddy day earlier this month, the team set about creating this fence to protect the hedge. We will be returning in a week or two, to plant up all the gaps with young whips of hazel and other species that will be of value- both in terms of habitat and as a connectivity route- for our local dormice. It has been a great opportunity to reach our direct land management beyond the boundaries of our own nature reserve, and to work with some really great local landowners. So, watch this space- and perhaps in 10 years when the shrubs have grown we will be reporting dormice from this hedgerow!