UK’s first hedgehog conservation area to be established in Solihull
Tuesday 17th March 2015
A landmark project launched today by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust has selected Solihull as the location for the UK’s first dedicated hedgehog conservation area, called the Hedgehog Improvement Area (HIA). Thanks to funding from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) the initiative has been developed in response to an alarming national decline in hedgehog numbers. The HIA aims to bolster the region’s hedgehog population, inspiring local people and organisations to take action to help one of the country’s most enigmatic and well-loved species.
"We are delighted to be funding such an exciting and important project in Warwickshire that will hopefully benefit many hedgehogs. Simple measures such as ensuring there is a 5" square gap in boundary walls and fences make a massive difference to local hedgehog populations. There are many ways people can assist this declining species and we hope this project will complement our work to highlight the plight of the hedgehog."
Fay Vass, Chief Executive, British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
At the heart of the initiative will be a 90 hectare ‘Hedgehog Reserve’, incorporating Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council’s Elmdon Park and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Elmdon Manor nature reserve. A group of volunteer ‘wildlife guardians’ will be recruited to aid in the management of this area of green space, helping to establish a central sanctuary from which the hedgehog population will be able to disperse and inhabit the surrounding area.
Community-based conservation is at the core of the HIA concept which will invite all members and groups within the area to make lasting improvements for hedgehogs. Warwickshire Wildlife Trust will be asking the residents of Elmdon to open up their private gardens to hedgehogs by simply making a 5” hole in their garden fence. Radiating out from the central ‘Hedgehog Reserve’ the HIA team aims to connect as many gardens in Solihull as possible; making a radical increase in the area of habitat available for hedgehogs within the urban environment.
Something as basic as linking up a series of small isolated green patches with a hole no bigger than the size of a CD is a remarkably powerful and positive action for hedgehog conservation. Making these connections between our own fenced-in islands of green spaces creates a continuous habitat corridor through which hedgehogs can forage, seek shelter and rendezvous with potential mates.
Simon Thompson, Hedgehog Officer, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Hedgehog Officer, Simon Thompson, will be delivering the project and extending an invitation to Solihull’s residents to participate in all elements of the initiative; notably a large scale citizen-science project to map and monitor hedgehog distribution and abundance across the town. Residents will be trained and encouraged to conduct hedgehog surveys in their own gardens using purpose built hedgehog footprint tunnels and remote HD wildlife cameras loaned out by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. All of the community’s hedgehog records will be plotted onto an map so that the project’s progress can be easily followed throughout the season.
“I’m really proud to be working on a project which has its feet so firmly grounded in grass-roots conservation. Local people and businesses have the opportunity to be involved with every level of the project. Whether getting hands-on with habitat management or borrowing a remote camera to conduct a survey in a back garden, everyone can get involved, ultimately helping to secure a bright future for hedgehogs in their community.”
Simon Thompson, Hedgehog Officer, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.
Alongside ongoing habitat improvements and survey work Warwickshire Wildlife Trust will be delivering a comprehensive programme of community engagement events, school visits, activities and talks to raise awareness of the issues effecting hedgehogs in both the rural and urban environments. This work will build upon support for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s ongoing county-wide Help for Hedgehogs campaign and help to put the Solihull HIA on the map as a model for hedgehog conservation in the UK.
The work of the Hedgehog Improvement Area can be followed from all across the UK on Twitter and Facebook, through Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (@WKWT) and the Help For Hedgehogs Campaign (@Help4Hedgehogs).
For the opportunity to get involved in the HIA project, whether it be through surveying for hedgehogs in your garden or through participating in hedgehog volunteering opportunities, simply visit: www.helpforhedgehogs.co.uk to register your interest today.
Simon Thompson, Hedgehog Officer
t: 01217 040 768
m: 07469 118 922
Emma Richmond, Marketing and Communications Officer
t: 024 76 308 997
m: 07951 448 781
A selection of photographs are available for use alongside this press release (please see next page for images). If you require high resolution files, please contact Emma Richmond, Marketing and Communications Officer.
Notes for editors:
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust - www.warwickshirewildlifetrust.org.uk
We are the leading local environmental charity which works for people and wildlife in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull. The Trust looks after 58 reserves. We are a voluntary membership organisation supported by more than 23,000 members and 700 volunteers. We promote a better natural environment for local wildlife and local people as part of our aim to create a living landscape in the West Midlands where wildlife and local people can live and thrive together.
The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) www.wildlifetrusts.org
There are 37 individual Wildlife Trusts in England. The Wildlife Trusts have more than 740,000 members in England including 140,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.
We manage 2,256 nature reserves covering more than 90,000 hectares and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves and visitor centres receive millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.
Help For Hedgehogs Campaign www.helpforhedgehogs.co.uk. Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Help For Hedgehogs campaign was launched in May 2013, raising awareness of the decline of the hedgehog population across Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull. The campaign has engaged over 4,400 local school children, encouraging fundraising activities and habitat improvements, as well as sharing hedgehog knowledge at events across the region. The Hedgehog Improvement Area in Solihull is the beginning of the next phase of the Help For Hedgehogs campaign, conducting large-scale conservation work for hedgehogs.
- British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk. BHPS is a UK charity founded in 1982 dedicated to helping & protecting hedgehogs native to the UK. They run a helpline offering advice on caring for & encouraging hedgehogs in the wild and in gardens. They aim to educate the public on how best to help hedgehogs and fund research into the behavioural habits of hedgehogs to ascertain the best methods of assisting their survival.