Warwickshire Wildlife Trust has selected Solihull for its 222 acre (90 hectare) hedgehog haven, the first to be dedicated purely for the protection of the small spiny mammal whose numbers in the UK have declined alarmingly.
The conservation area, called the HIA (Hedgehog Improvement Area), has been selected thanks to funding from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS).
The HIA plans to boost the hedgehog population in the region. Warwickshire Wildlife Trust (WWT) wants to inspire local people and organisations to help one of the nation’s most enigmatic and well-loved species.
This is the UK’s first hedgehog conservation area. (Image: Warwickshire Wildlife Trust)
CEO of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, Fay Vass, said:
“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.”
The initiative is centrered around a 90 hectare (222 acre) Hedgehog Reserve, incorporating Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Elmdon Manor nature reserve and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council’s Elmdon Park.
WWT plans to recruit a team of volunteer ‘wildlife guardians’ to help manage 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.”
Open your garden to hedgehogs
WWT is calling on Elmdon residents to open up their gardens to hedgehogs. All they need to do is make a five-inch hole in their garden fence.
The ultimate aim is to connect as many gardens in Solihull as possible, which if achieved would considerably increase the area of habitat available for hedgehogs in towns and cities.
Without a concerted effort by humans, hedgehogs could eventually become extinct in the United Kingdom.
WWT Hedgehog Officer, Simon Thompson, will be delivering the project and inviting Solihull residents to take part in all elements of the initiative, which is part of a large-scale citizen-science project to map and monitor the distribution and abundance of hedgehogs across the town.
Residents will have the opportunity to be trained in carrying out hedgehog surveys in their own private gardens using purpose-built footprint tunnels and remote HD wildlife cameras which the WWT will loan out.
All data gathered from residents will be plotted onto a map so that the project’s progress can be easily followed throughout the season.
Mr. Thompson said:
“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.”
WWT says it will also be delivering a comprehensive programme including school visits, activities, engagement events, and talks to improve awareness of the problems hedgehogs face both in urban and rural environments.
The WWT wrote:
“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.”
Video – How to help hedgehogs in your garden
This Wildlife Garden Project video shows you how to help hedgehogs in your garden.