Audrey Watson, BASC’s Green Shoots Wales officer, outlines a project to increase dormice numbers

CHECKS of nest boxes in a private woodland in Denbighshire, North Wales, have produced some good news in the form of the highest number of dormice found in the wood since 2012. Nationally, dormice populations have been fluctuating, with a downward overall trend. They are already extinct in some areas, having once been widespread throughout much of Britain. So projects to encourage them and protect their habitat are important, such as Green Shoots Mapping which allows BASC members to directly report the wildlife they see on their shooting land. The nest boxes are part of the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme, with data being collected by the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species through surveys carried out by people licensed to check the boxes. The 50 next boxes are examined every summer and again in October. While there is not a huge population in the wood, I had become a little despondent after recent surveys found a dwindling number of dormice in the last three years, with none found at all in 2014 and only one in 2015. I have always found October to be the most successful time for checking the nest boxes as, during the summer, birds tend to get in there first and build their nests, which does seem to preclude dormice using them. Back in autumn 2011, I found six dormice nests in total, of which two were occupied and then, in autumn 2012, there were eight nests, including four occupied.     However, since then, we have found only one dormouse (in autumn 2015) and only one or two nests in total. Checks this summer yielded no dormice and no nests, so I was getting a little concerned that we may have lost the population. But I am so glad that, this autumn, I found four nests, of which three were occupied and including juveniles. The wood has been undergoing small scale thinning to remove some of the conifers which were planted back in the late 1940s so it could be that the opening up of parts of the canopy has allowed more bramble to flourish. Bramble is one of the best food plants for dormice, as it flowers for a long period, providing much needed nourishment when they come out of hibernation in the spring. Then the fruits in the autumn allow them to build up fat stores ready for the winter hibernation. It could also be that the good summer we have had has enabled better breeding. I hope the juveniles I found will survive through the winter and contribute to next year’s breeding population. Whatever the reason, I am glad that we do still have dormice in the wood!   [author] [author_image timthumb='on'][/author_image] [author_info]Audrey Watson Green Shoots Officer Wales After completing a BSc (Hons) degree in Ecology (Forestry) at Edinburgh University and a Masters degree in Forest Recreation at Pennsylvania State University, Audrey has over 20 years experience in countryside management in local and national government, working for local authorities, the…

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Sea trout spawning grounds in North Wales protected by local shoot

Work to improve and protect riverbanks and vegetation on sea trout spawning grounds has been carried out by a local shoot on the Llyn Peninsula in Wales through BASC’s Green Shoots conservation programme, supported by Natural Resources Wales.

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Be clear on plastic bags

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) is calling for transparency on proposed plastic bag charges in England. BASC has called for money raised from the sale of plastic bags to be spent on landscape-scale conservation projects and for the way the money is spent to be clear for all to see. The Association has proposed three themes to underpin the selection process. These are: (a) looking after England’s nature (b) landscape scale action and ecosystem services (c) supporting sustainable food production BASC’s chief executive Richard Ali said: “BASC believes that proposed plastic bag charges in England could encourage funds to be spent on the core, but underfunded, conservation priorities highlighted under the Natural Environment White Paper and the England Biodiversity Strategy. BASC’s Green Shoots programme meets these priorities.” BASC submitted evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) inquiry on plastic bag charges, which said the Government should set clear rules for transparent reporting and for retailers to publicise in store where the funds are going. Click here for BASC’s evidence.  

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BASC responds to English CAP consultation

BASC's response to a Defra consultation has put shooting and conservation on the agenda in discussions about how the subsidies for the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) will be spent in England.

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