Hedgehog Highways in Houlton.
Hedgehogs have undergone a dramatic decline across Britain since the millennium. Warwickshire Wildlife Trust are working hard to help these little animals survive and flourish. Ann Evans finds out more.
Due to the worrying decline in hedgehogs across Britain, in 2013 Warwickshire Wildlife Trust launched the Help for Hedgehogs campaign, raising fund and awareness of the decline of the hedgehog population across Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull. The campaign has engaged thousands of local school children, encouraged fundraising activities and habitat improvements, and promoted the sharing of hedgehog knowledge at events across the region.
In March 2015 the Hedgehog Improvement Area (HIA) in Solihull was launched as part of the campaign, with the aim of conducting large-scale conservation work for hedgehogs. Following its success, the Rugby HIA was then launched in April 2016.
Now, housebuilders Morris Homes is leading an initiative in partnership with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust to bring hedgehog highways to the new Houlton community on the eastern edge of Rugby.
Morris’ development, The Beacons, will be the first in Houlton to sign up to including new passing points in its garden fences, ensuring that hedgehogs and other wildlife are given the freedom to amble around the available green spaces without issue.
Dr Deborah Wright, Hedgehog Officer at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, said of the partnership: “It’s fantastic that Morris has decided take up the recommendations of both the Trust and Rugby Borough Council to make fencing hedgehog-friendly at the Beacons. The development sits within the Rugby Hedgehog Improvement Area, funded by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. We work across the borough to engage communities in wildlife conservation and habitat improvements – and Morris is setting a precedent for the connectivity of green spaces for hedgehogs in the area.”
Hedgehogs travel around one mile every night through parks and gardens in their quest to find enough food and a mate. Hedgehog ‘highways’ will be cut in the garden fences of Morris’ modern mews, semi-detached and detached properties to improve connectivity throughout the development. With hedgehog numbers rapidly declining nationally – a third of the hedgehog population having been lost since the millennium – it is hoped that the initiative will also encourage other developers to help our prickly friends.
Chris Worman MBE Parks and Grounds Manager at Rugby Borough Council said: “It is great that the developers of Houlton are supporting the Hedgehog Improvement Area and adding to successful work that we are already doing across the rest of Rugby.”
Morris Homes is one of the country’s largest privately-owned housebuilders and has been building properties for more than 60 years.
Dominic Harman, regional managing director at Morris, said: “We’re delighted to be able to play our part in building much needed homes for those looking for a new place to live in the local area whilst also enabling the hedgehog population to live freely in their habitat.
“Every development we build has an ecology survey to ensure we protect the living species and contribute to their habitat as much as we can. We’re glad to be the first in Houlton to partner with the Wildlife Trust to support the wonderful work they do in the area.”
Hedgehog Street, is another initiative, striving to help the survival of the hedgehog. This is a joint campaign run by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society which began in 2011 in an endeavour to engage British people about the wildlife that depends on them and their gardens.
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