It’s not ‘news’ that Britain’s hedgehogs are declining. The two wildlife charities behind Hedgehog Street, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), have been working together since 2011 to help stop the dramatic decline in population numbers. Now, Hedgehog Street has published a free guide aimed at housing developers, planners and other landscape professionals, to show how they too can help save Britain’s favourite mammal.
The guide was created with the help of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. Titled Hedgehogs and Development, the new booklet aims to encourage housing developers, contractors and builders, as well as local authorities and landscape architects, to make small changes to developments that will help hedgehogs. The guide gives straightforward advice that can be implemented before, during and after the build, all with the purpose of protecting local hedgehog populations and preventing further decline, and ultimately ensuring their future in the area.
The guide details lots of top tips, including: instructions on how to make ‘Hedgehog Highways’; what habitat features will best help hedgehogs to thrive; spotting hedgehog hazards on sites; land management advice for completed developments, and advice on how to easily survey for hedgehogs in the area.
Emily Wilson, Hedgehog Officer for Hedgehog Street says: “There are a combination of factors causing the decline of hedgehogs, including habitat loss and fragmentation.Hedgehogs can travel up to a mile a night in their quest to find enough food, nesting sites and mates. With new developments popping up across the country, we are increasingly fragmenting the landscape, whether it be by installing fences and walls, or building new roads. This makes it very difficult for hedgehogs to get from one green space to the next.
‘Hedgehog Highways’ are a fantastic solution. By leaving a small 13cm x 13cm gap in all the boundaries of new homes, developers can create habitat connectivity across developments and stop further loss of this endangered species. We offer ‘Hedgehog Highway’ plaques (made from recycled plastic) which tell current and future homeowners why the hole is there, what it’s for, which hopefully will keep it open forever. By working together, we can bring these animals back from the brink.”
Hedgehog Street is already working with several housing developers at sites across the UK, including Russell Armer Homes (in Cumbria and Lancashire), the Thakeham Group (Surrey) and Redrow Homes at three sites in Bedfordshire, north Devon and the Midlands.
Russell Armer Homes is leading the way and have installed Hedgehog Street’s green ‘Hedgehog Highway’ plaques in all fences across the development, ensuring hedgehogs and other wildlife can access all the new gardens – a total of 56 properties.
Martyn Nicholson, Managing Director at Russell Armer Homes says: “We are delighted to become Hedgehog Champions by creating what we believe to be Cumbria and Lancashire’s first Hedgehog Highways. Hedgehogs have been associated with the area for many years, thanks to Beatrix Potter’s Tales, and it is important to look after their welfare.”
“Since installing these Hedgehog Highways we’ve had really positive responses from clients who buy a home on the development and even those who just come for a viewing! It’s a real talking point and we’re pleased to be doing our bit for wildlife. We hope homeowners who are not living in a home with a gap in their fence and other developers will follow our lead and remove a brick or cut a gap in their own fencing.”
Hedgehog Street encourages people to make small hedgehog-friendly changes to their own gardens, which will make all the difference. To date, over 60,000 volunteer “Hedgehog Champions” across the UK have registered to help. The developers guide follows two previous booklets Hedgehog Street has produced – one for farmers and rural land owners, published in July 2018 (Helping Hedgehogs on Your Land), and one aimed at land managers of urban or suburban green space published in February 2019 (Hedgehog Ecology and Land Management).
To help hedgehogs, register as a Hedgehog Champion and find out more information about hedgehogs on: www.hedgehogstreet.org.