Letter: Why dormice can no longer be found in inner London

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The Independent Online
Sir: London Wildlife Trust would be pleasantly surprised to see dormice in Mortlake Cemetery. Unfortunately, the delightful cover photograph on your Weekend section (5 July) shows an inquisitive woodmouse (Apodemus sylvaticus), not its much rarer relative, as the caption claims. These widespread but rarely encountered mammals are found throughout much of London in woodlands, wilder parks, large gardens, and of course sympathetically managed cemeteries.

The dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) however, is much dependent on ancient coppiced woodlands with a high proportion of hazel. Loss of habitat has resulted in its decline; it has disappeared from seven English counties within the last century and is now protected. From the latest surveys, it appears that in London, only the rural margins of Bromley have woodlands which support dormice.

MATHEW FRITH

Conservation Manager

London Wildlife Trust

London N1

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