A flagship mission to reintroduce hazel dormice into woodlands straddling the Cumbrian and Lancashire border has been recognised in a special award for an outstanding contribution.
Arnside & Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) has hailed work by the Back on our Map (BOOM) project, made possible by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and backed by University of Cumbria.
Since Britain’s only native dormouse was returned to woodlands last summer, their numbers have been steadily rising with offspring even producing their own young.
AONB manager, Lucy Barron, said the Bittern Award was given in gratitude of incredible contributions by the BOOM team and its band of volunteers, whose care and vision would leave a lasting legacy to the area.
She explained: “At a time of biodiversity crisis, BOOM has given us inspirational nature enhancement with such positive impacts. Huge importance is placed on community and involves people from a variety of backgrounds.
“As well as dormouse reintroductions, we have benefitted from other work to bring back rare and threatened species to our area.”
BOOM’s far-reaching four-year reintroduction programme extends to 10 different kinds of endangered flora and fauna across South Cumbria, with Morecambe Bay Partnership overseeing volunteers.
The multi-agency dormouse project has seen successful breeding in the Silverdale area, according to BOOM manager, Jo Sayers, who said it was testimony to all those who had worked hard to bring ‘a bright light in tough times’.
She added: “This simply could not have been done without our amazing volunteers, who have literally put in thousands of hours to make it work. We are indebted to the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) who manage the dormouse reintroduction programme, the Common Dormouse Captive Breeders Group and Zoological Society of London for supplying the dormice, landowner Natural England (NE) and all our partners.
“It was a wonderful surprise to learn about the award as it celebrates the achievements of many, including former team member, Dr Deborah Brady, and shows that our ethos of bringing back species to and with communities is the right one.
“There is great change in the countryside and this helps demonstrate to funders and decision-makers the value of what we are doing. We have helped raise the profile of hazel dormice to a nationwide audience.
“For the volunteers, I know it has captured their hearts and enthusiasm. We have learned from one another and the future for these adorable little mammals is in competent hands.
“We now eagerly await their awakening from hibernation and this year’s release of more dormice in a different area of nearby woodland.”
The AONB is also playing host to BOOM’s green-winged orchids, laboratory-cultivated by Kew Gardens and now carefully watched over by NE and National Trust staff.
(picture: Jago Miller)