Wednesday 25th April 2012
A family of dormice has made a road bridge their new home, thanks to a pioneering design from the National Trust.
The charity has planted shrubs and trees along either side of the bridge over the A21, which has divided areas of woodland.
The land-bridge, on the National Trust's Scotney Castle estate, near Tunbridge Wells, in Kent, allows wildlife to live in harmony alongside motorists who use the dual carriageway.
A series of surveys, carried out in 2001 identified the presence of protected species including badgers, birds, snakes and dormice and were instrumental in the Trust's successful bid for a land-bridge.
National Trust rangers recently discovered that a female hazel dormouse and her babies were living on the land-bridge.
The internationally protected species has seen numbers dwindle in recent years and is now at risk of extinction.
Head ranger Ross Wingfield said: "I think that it's great that in such a short period of time the wildlife at Scotney Castle and its surroundings is comfortable using the land-bridge.
"As time goes on I'm sure that we will find many more species using the land-bridge as a safe haven."
Dormouse expert Dr Pat Morris said: "This is proof that making wildlife-friendly adjustments to bridges does actually work.
"Eight mammal species now use it and the bridge also offers a tranquil and safe way for visitors to approach the Scotney Estate across a busy main road."