The dormouse is one of the UK's 5 most endangered species. The number of dormice in the UK – described as one of the country’s “most endearing woodland mammals” – has fallen by more than 70 per cent in just two decades and they are now at risk of extinction. A survey of 26,000 nest boxes in 400 forests found that its population fell by 72 per cent between 1993 and 2014.
The hazel dormouse is the only kind native to Britain,and is a protected species. Efforts are underway to boost its numbers. Some habitats such as the woods in Binsted and Tortington contain such a richness of life that we need to protect them at all costs. We are working to preserve these, as well as the countless species they support.
One of our volunteers, Ian Powell, is a licensed Dormouse handler. He has for many years been installing dormouse boxes and has been delighted to find that some of these were being utilised. As a result of this, it became clear that here was an opportunity for Binsted and Tortington woods to become a real dormouse haven.
In 2017 MAVES put in a bid to Tescos for funding, and in 2018 were delighted to come second in our local stores' shoppers' tokens ballot, and, as a result of this we were awarded £2000. This was to cover more dormouse boxes and training.
We have since been delighted to have the involvement of Ford Prison in the making of the boxes, which has reduced our costs hugely, and has meant that we can use boxes in far more parts of the woods than originally planned. With the aid of the prison, we have now installed 50 boxes, and are in the process of installing another 100.
These photos are of 2 offenders from Ford making and installing the boxes along with volunteers. We also had the privilege of checking previous boxes, and … were delighted to discover two occupied boxes. Each dormouse is then recorded and weighed . The dormouse in these photos is 14 grams (the average has been 10 grams) and pregnant.
Everything we do is based on scientific evidence. We gather this through surveys, which you can take part in. MAVES was set up to conserve and save our wildlife. We are governed by a board of volunteer trustees and our volunteers are passionate about protecting endangered species and places.