SOLIHULL is set to become the UK’s first dedicated hedgehog conservation area.
The landmark project launched by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust will see the town and surrounding areas become a designated Hedgehog Improvement Area (HIA) as a means to tackle the alarming decline in the national hedgehog population.
At the heart of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) funded 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.
Managed by a group of volunteer ‘Wildlife Guardians’, this area of dedicated green space will seek to establish a central sanctuary from which the hedgehog population will be able to disperse and inhabit the surrounding area.
But organisers are hoping the HIA will also encourage Silhillians to get involved in community-based hedgehog conservation projects.
Local residents will be urged to take simple measures – such as ensuring there is a 5″ square gap in boundary walls and fences, and cutting small five inch holes in their fences – to do their bit help our spiny hedgrow companions.
Simon Thompson, Hedgehog Officer for the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, said these small changes will radically increase in the area of habitat available for hedgehogs within the local urban environment.
He added: “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 is also set to lead the way in inviting Silhillians to participate in a large scale citizen-science project – trainging them to conduct hedgehog surveys in their own gardens to monitor the local population.
Seaking about the HIA project, Simon said he was proud to be involved in the ‘grass-roots conservation’ project.
He added: “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.”
To find out more information, or to get involved in the HIA project – whether it be through surveying for hedgehogs in your garden or through participating in hedgehog volunteering opportunities – visit www.helpforhedgehogs.co.uk.