The British Hedgehog Preservation Society is highlighting the problems hedgehogs face during Hedgehog Awareness Week which aims to let each of us know how we can do our bit to help them out, from raising funds to practical gardening tips. For more information and to find out about events in your local area head to: www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk.
British hedgehog are partially protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act as well as being one of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species. Although the total population remains unknown, due to the practical difficulties of monitoring such a shy and elusive species, numbers appear to be declining. The loss of natural habitat and habitat connectivity, including the removal of hedgerows, is one of the major threats to hedgehogs throughout the UK. Hedgehogs are also suffering due to the increased use of chemical pesticides in intensive farming and gardening which reduce their invertebrate food supply.
This year’s Hedgehog Awareness Week focuses on how gardeners can implement simple measures to help their local hedgehogs. While these measures can provide protection to hedgehogs in relatively small habitats they can also be incredibly valuable when implemented on larger sites in both rural and urban settings.
Some of the easiest measures that might save a hedgehog’s life include ensuring that escape routes are available from ponds, drains and cattle grids, reducing the use of pesticides, and improving habitat connectivity by providing small holes in fencing or walls. Additionally by considering the needs of hedgehogs in landscape planning the foraging and nesting opportunities on site can be enhanced, providing huge ecological benefits for hedgehogs along with other native wildlife.
It is also crucial to check suitable hedgehog refuge areas prior to clearing, ensuring that no hedgehogs are killed or injured in the process. This is of particular importance during the breeding period and when the animals are hibernating. Many hedgehogs are killed or injured each year by strimmer’s, garden forks and fire while nesting in long vegetation, compost heaps and bonfire piles.
At Ecosulis we can provide the expertise to assess your site’s potential for hedgehogs and provide pre-clearance checks through our Ecological Clerk of Works system. We can also work with you to design and implement mitigation or enhancement measures to ensure your site is as hedgehog friendly as it can be.