A NEW ‘Hedgehog Friendly Fencing’ campaign has been launched in a bid to make garden fencing with ready-made ‘Hedgehog Highways’ available as industry standard, and members of the public are being asked to help. Habitat fragmentation is one of the main issues affecting Britain’s hedgehogs, but 13cm square gaps in fences, known as ‘Hedgehog Highways’, help to combat this prickly problem.
Hedgehog Street, a nationwide campaign by charities People’s Trust for Endangered Species(PTES) and The British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), is behind this new movement. It aims to give native hedgehogs - listed as vulnerable to extinction on the Red List for Britain’s Mammals 2020 - better access to neighbouring gardens and green spaces, which is vital for the species’ long-term survival.
Members of the public and Hedgehog Champions (a 120,000-strong group of passionate volunteers who have already pledged to help the small, spikey mammals) are being urged to write to local and national fencing companies using free template letters provided by Hedgehog Street, requesting hedgehog friendly fencing options in their product ranges. This includes pre-made Hedgehog Highways in fences or gravel boards. Companies who agree will be showcased on Hedgehog Street’s website, celebrating those who have pledged to help Britain’s favourite mammal.
To take part and access the template letters, visit www.hedgehogstreet.org/hedgehog-friendly-fencing
Grace Johnson, Hedgehog Officer for Hedgehog Street explains: 'Hedgehog numbers have plummeted in recent years, with losses of up to 75% in parts of the countryside. Hedgehogs can travel 2km in a single night, and fences prevent hedgehogs from accessing different gardens looking for food, shelter and potential mates, which is essential for their survival. Making a Hedgehog Highway is an incredibly simple yet effective solution, especially if manufacturers and suppliers offered ready-made products as standard, and made customers and installers aware of them.
'We really hope the nation will join us in the fight to save our native hedgehogs by asking local and national fencing manufacturers who aren’t already doing their bit to help. We understand it takes time to develop new products, but if a company pledged their support at this stage, it would be a huge step forward for hedgehog conservation.'
Some manufacturers are already helping hedgehogs, including Jacksons Fencing and Birkdale, but much more help is needed. Earlier this summer leading builders merchant Selco Builders Warehouse introduced their ‘Supreme Pro Hedgehog Hole Gravel Boards’ – each with a pre-fitted Hedgehog Highway – across its 75 stores and online, which was welcome news to Hedgehog Street. It is hoped other manufacturers will follow suit and pledge to make and sell similar products.
In addition to creating a Hedgehog Highway in your garden (or buying a fence with one already installed), there are lots of other ways to help hedgehogs. Leave an area of your garden wild and undisturbed; encourage natural insect food with log piles, leaf piles and compost heaps; leave out shallow dishes of water; check for hedgehogs before strimming or mowing; stop using chemicals and help spread the word by becoming a Hedgehog Champion. You could even consider replacing one or more of your fences with a hedge – the ultimate hedgehog friendly garden boundary.
The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2022 report, published by BHPS & PTES, showed that whilst rural hedgehog populations are struggling, the species appears to be seeking refuge in urban and suburban areas, closer to peoples’ homes. This highlights the urgent need to help our hedgehogs by making sure they can access all the green space they need, via Hedgehog Highways. It is hoped that with the help of the public, and Hedgehog Street’s ongoing work with farmers, landowners, UK government and developers, the fate of native hedgehogs can be turned around.