VITAL work is being done to protect one of the county's best-loved creatures, the hazel dormouse, thanks to donations from people.

The number of hazel dormice has plummeted by 72 per cent in the last 20 years. They depend on carefully managed woodland and hedgerows, but these habitats are in decline.

The Stroud Valleys is one of the few areas of Gloucestershire where dormice are found and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT) has started work at its Laurie Lee Woods nature reserve to create an ideal environment for hazel dormice.

Nest boxes are being installed and woodland management tasks are being carried out by staff and volunteers. This work has been made possible thanks to support from Grundon Waste Management and donations from members of the public.

The charity is aiming to raise £30,000 to help protect hazel dormice throughout the county.

Over two decades, Grundon Waste Management, which diverts waste from landfill for recycling, has donated more than £2 million to GWT.

The company kick-started GWT’s campaign to purchase Laurie Lee Woods in 2013 and has promised to match fund the Dormice in Danger appeal up to £15,000.

Alan Sumnall, GWT’s reserves manager for the Stroud Valleys said: “Thank you to everyone who has donated to our appeal so far. The generous support of people who care about wildlife means that we have been able to increase the work that we are doing.

“However, we urgently need more money so we can provide the varied habitat that hazel dormice need, which will involve coppicing more woodland and planting hedgerows.”

Work needs to take place this winter, while the dormice are hibernating and before they start searching for food in the spring.

To donate to the Dormice in Danger appeal, visit gloucestershirewildlifetrust/dormice