Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)

2.4    Managing habitats for bats and dormice

Why your farm is important

There are 17 species of bat known to breed in England, the majority are adapted for feeding across a complex and diverse landscape mosaic comprised of woodland, waterbodies, grassland and heathland. Bats spend over half of their life roosting, using a variety of structures both man-made and natural. Since the mid-20th century, a number of bat species have suffered dramatic population declines. The main causes of declining bat populations are roost destruction and disturbance, and habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation. Hedgerows, woodland edges and streams are essential for providing commuting routes to and from roosts and feeding grounds.

Dormice are most frequently found in broad-leaved woodland with either a thick coppice structure or over-mature woodland with good ground cover. They can also be found in mixed conifer plantations, scrub and hedgerows. Dormice benefit from species-rich hedgerows with a plentiful supply of fruit and berries, sometimes linked to brambles. The dormouse has suffered historical decline in England and is now absent from a number of counties where it was recorded in the late 19th century. The decline is due to habitat fragmentation, degradation, loss or inappropriate management.


Priority areas for bats and dormice

This map shows the priority areas for bats and dormice. It is intended to help you establish whether the options below are suitable for your farm. More detailed regional maps are available on the Natural England website at: www.naturalengland.org.uk/es.

If your farm is located in a high-priority or medium priority area, then by including the options into your agreement, you will be helping bats and dormice to thrive on your farm.








What you can do for bats and dormice

Hedgerows and woodland edges are incredibly important for bats as they tend to navigate to their roosts and feeding grounds along them. Maintaining good-quality hedgerows, including trees providing shelter, feeding perches and roosting opportunities, will greatly benefit bat species. Bats will also benefit from options which increase insect populations, eg permanent pasture with low/very low inputs and the maintenance of ponds and ditches.

Brown long-eared bats
© Natural England/Sean Hanna

© Pat Morris


Dormice will benefit from options which promote range expansion, for example, the maintenance of rides, glades to allow light to reach the woodland floor and promote the growth of the ground cover and woodland connections to allow the dormice to move through their habitat; and options which promote a diversity of food sources throughout the dormouse active period.


Code Option description
EB3 Hedgerow management for landscape and wildlife
EB10 Combined hedge and ditch management (incorporating EB3)
EB14 Hedgerow restoration
EC3 Maintenance of woodland fences
EC4 Management of woodland edges
EC23 Establishment of hedgerow trees by tagging
EC24 Hedgerow tree buffer strips on cultivated land
EC25 Hedgerow tree buffer strips on grassland


Planted up gaps in hedge
© Natural England/Peter Roworth

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