Coinciding with national hedgehog day on 2 February, people in South Gloucestershire are being asked to become hedgehog heroes as part of South Gloucestershire Council’s efforts to help halt the severe decline in the species over the last 20 years.
As part of the council’s nature recovery vision, it is working with 15 town and parish councils in South Gloucestershire to encourage people in the area to create a target of 3000 ‘hedgehog holes’. Hedgehog holes are typically 13cm holes in garden fences, walls and gates to enable hedgehogs to safely access gardens. These hedgehog holes or ‘highways’ will help form a garden network of places for them to find food, shelter and even other prickly pals.
Under the scheme South Gloucestershire will become a hedgehog friendly zone, leading the way to improve this vital species’ recovery as part of the council’s long-term climate and nature emergency strategy.
There are both urban and rural hedgehogs, those in built up areas seem to be showing signs of stabilising and it is hoped this project will mean the more rural populations can recover.
The council will be coordinating the project through its Local Nature Action Plans (LNAPs) which support town and parish councils to draw up their own action plans to help tackle the climate and nature emergency.
Councillor Steve Reade, cabinet member responsible for the environment at South Gloucestershire Council, said: “We want as many people as possible across South Gloucestershire to take part in this initiative and help create hedgehog holes in their gardens.
“Residential gardens linked by hedgehog holes or highways provide safe routes for hedgehogs, away from busy roads, and can become important connected habitats and food sources.
“Often small acts can combine to make a big difference, so working with local town and parish councils, we’re hoping to encourage thousands of residents to get involved and do their bit to help hedgehogs and the environment.”
The project will actively run for one year and is expected to continue passively for several further years.
Anyone who takes part and creates a hedgehog hole highway can log it on the big hedgehog map www.bighedgehogmap.org
This is South Gloucestershire Council’s first joint nature restoration project with LNAP partners. The work is part of the council’s Big Switch towards being carbon neutral by 2030 and increasing biodiversity in South Gloucestershire. For more information visit www.southglos.gov.uk/thebigswitch
South Gloucestershire Council is also working with Hedgehog Rescue in Yate who help care for injured hedgehogs and have worked in the community for more than 20 years raising awareness of hedgehog welfare. For more information visit http://hedgehogrescue.info/