Miniature bridges built to help endangered dormice travel through the Forest of Dean

The Forest of Dean is an important habitat for dormice Credit: PA

Two miniature rope bridges have been installed in the Forest of Dean to help endangered dormice travel between different parts of the woodland.

Forestry England came up with the idea because they had to remove diseased ash trees from part of the wood at Flaxley, which meant the hazel dormice couldn’t easily move from one part of their normal habitat to another.

Each of the 20-metre long bridges are 16-foot high over a forest road and supported between trees.

Area ecologist at Forestry England, Kate Wollen said: “Dormice do not like to come to ground except for hibernation.

"They feel vulnerable to predators when on the ground and while these bridges do not replace the trees that had to be felled, they will enable dormice to feel safer as they cross from one part of the wood to another.”

Hazel dormice need woodland or hedgerows to live and feed during the warmer months and like to move under the treetops or through shrubs.

The ash dieback developed among a section of the trees where Forestry England regularly monitors the dormice. If the trees had been left they could have collapsed.

Area ecologist Kate Wollen helping to install one of the two bridges for dormice to use Credit: Forestry England

Across the country the hazel dormouse population has declined significantly in recent years, however the Forest of Dean remains an important habitat for them.

The bridges took less than two days to install and over the summer cameras will be fitted to monitor the dormice using them.

Community ranger Leoni Dawson said: “We could not have accomplished this project without the help of our volunteers.

"Together we have worked very hard in this woodland improving habitat for the wildlife and flora.

“We hope the bridges will complement this work and that the dormice will do well. We’ve never tried this before and it is exciting to see what will happen.”