Page last updated at 10:25 GMT, Friday, 26 June 2009 11:25 UK
Help for the endangered dormouse
Ian White Dormice Officer
Ian White Dormice Officer

A nature charity is embarking on a two year project to encourage landowners to improve their hedgerows.

The aim is to create an ideal environment for the endangered dormouse and make it easier for it to move around.

The project was launched by The People's Trust for Endangered Species and is funded by Natural England.

Shropshire and three other counties are taking part in the trial and it will move on to other counties next year.

Jim Jones from the People's Trust for Endangered Species said healthy hedgerows were vital if the dormouse population was to increase: "We are looking to get people to manage hedgerows so that they are in good condition between dormice sites.

Hedgerows important

"Dormice are very much dependent on good quality hedgerows. They rely on a good structure and good species diversity to be able to live in them and to move throughout them."

The Trust has launched an appeal for volunteers to help them survey hedgerows.

Tom Fairfield is a volunteer and a professional hedge layer. He stressed the importance of keeping foliage at the bottom of the hedgerow: "It means partly cutting through the stem and laying the plant down at about and angle of 30 degrees... so you are basically getting new growth from the bottom of the hedge."

Hibernating dormice
Hibernating dormice

The Dormice Officer for the Trust is Ian White. He says they are the perfect animal to sell conservation to the general public: "Generally the public love dormice. They're cute, they're cuddly and they are a nice animal to work with."

Mr White said the dormouse suffered a steep decline in Victorian times, but since the 1970's the decline has slowed: "That could well be the consequences of conservation effort. We are starting to make a difference."


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