Striving to protect biodiversity in Whyteleafe

Nobody does more to enhance the environment and biodiversity in Whyteleafe than the indomitable Sarah Clifford of the Downlands Partnership. A few minutes with her is inspirational: her enthusiasm for flora and fauna shines through brilliantly.

Today, I’d like to talk about dormice. Unfortunately, the dormice population has halved across the country since 2000. The loss of ancient woodland and hedgerows is thought to have led to their decline.

Dormice are good indicators of animal and plant diversity, and were first discovered within the Sanderstead to Whyteleafe countryside area at Whyteleafe recreation ground in 2011. Since then, Sarah and her group of volunteers have been nurturing them diligently, as their environment requires very careful management.

Artillery Hill, in front of the Pavilion Café, is registered on the People’s Trust for Endangered Species website, and the National Dormouse Database and it forms part of the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme. A population of 75 was recorded in 2015, but numbers can fluctuate due to changes in weather and availability of food each year. Most people never get to see these tiny creatures because they are both arboreal, spending most of their time in trees, and nocturnal.

If you would like to learn more, join a guided walk or volunteer, you can contact Sarah via The recreation ground’s new noticeboard, which was jointly funded by the village council, has more information about our wonderful local wildlife and volunteering opportunities.

Please consider how you might enjoy making the tiniest bit of difference in Whyteleafe.

Dr. Marcus Jones, chairman of Whyteleafe Village Council

Photo courtesy of Matt Binstead, British Wildlife Centre

(Photo courtesy of Matt Binstead, British Wildlife Centre)

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