Helping hedgehogs project to challenge alarming decline of wildlife in UK gardens

Posted by ap507 at Oct 16, 2015 01:31 PM |
Wild About Gardens event at University of Leicester Botanic Garden on Saturday 24 October

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 16 October 2015

Images of European hedgehog (credit Michael Gäbler) available at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/4yrn9a3u1v692z7/Erinaceus_europaeus_%28Linnaeus%2C_1758%29.jpg?dl=0

Snuffling hedgehogs visiting gardens throughout the United Kingdom are becoming less common due to declining populations – and an event organised by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust at the University of Leicester Botanic Garden on Saturday 24 October hopes to challenge this worrying trend.

Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and the University of Leicester Botanic Garden are encouraging gardeners across the two counties to help hedgehogs this autumn, as part of the national Wild About Gardens Week taking place between 26 October – 1 November.

This year a special event will take place at the University of Leicester Botanic Garden on Saturday 24 October which focuses on the Hedgehog Street project, an initiative designed to raise awareness among gardeners about how they can help wildlife and hedgehogs in particular.

The week is a joint initiative by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and the Wildlife Trusts to encourage people to support local biodiversity in their gardens.

Dr Richard Gornall, Director of the University of Leicester Botanic Garden, explained: “Biodiversity is essential to the proper functioning of ecosystems on our planet. Every little bit of it counts, including the hedgehogs in our gardens. A garden with hedgehogs is a garden that is working naturally, contributing to the ecological health of the area. Come along and find out what you can do to help make a difference.”

During the day a series of activities will be available, including the opportunity to meet a hedgehog, children's crafts, wildlife gardening talks and more.

More than half of the thousands of UK animal and plant species have declined in the past 50 years for a range of reasons including loss of habitat.

Many common garden species, such as hedgehogs, house sparrows, starlings and common frogs are becoming much less common.

The Wildlife Trusts are encouraging gardeners to make a difference by making their own gardens and the green spaces in their communities more wildlife friendly.

Rachel Ibbotson, Education Officer for Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, said: “Whatever size your garden is you can help wildlife. There are around 15 million gardens in the UK which could be a huge ‘nature reserve’ for wildlife if we all make a bit of space for nature.

“Hedgehogs travel up to 2 km each night to find food but need help in accessing gardens so create a ‘Hedgehog Highway’ by making a hole in the bottom of your fence, wall or gate.”

The event will take place on Saturday 24 October between 10.30am to 4pm at the University of Leicester Botanic Garden, Glebe Road, Oadby LE2 2LD.

Admission to the event is free.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

For more information please contact Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust info@lrwt.org.uk or the University of Leicester Botanic Garden on email botanicgarden@le.ac.uk

What can you do?

  • Attend the Wild About Gardens - Hedgehogs event on Saturday 24 October, 10.30am – 4pm at the University of Leicester Botanic Garden, Oadby. For more information go to www.lrwt.org.uk
  • Create habitats for wildlife in your garden - visit www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk for advice and ideas.
  • Follow #wildaboutgardens on Twitter throughout the week for regular tips on how you can make a difference this autumn
  • One practical thing people can do from home to help hedgehogs is to make a hedgehog highway hole (13cm by 13cm) in your garden fence, gate or wall to help hedgehogs pass easily between gardens.

The Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust (LRWT) works to protect and enhance Leicestershire and Rutland’s wildlife and wild places. The Trust is the largest non-governmental organisation dedicated to the conservation of wildlife in the two counties. It is one of 47 Wildlife Trusts across the UK forming the Wildlife Trust partnership, the UK’s leading conservation charity. The Trust has more than 15,500 members, manages 34 nature reserves covering more than 1,214 hectares, and provides advice to other landowners on conservation issues. Helping people to enjoy and have access to wildlife is increasingly part of the Trust’s work.

For further information see www.lrwt.org.uk

The University of Leicester Botanic Garden focuses on the importance of global biodiversity and grows a wide range of plants from around the world in its 16 acres of gardens and greenhouses.  It is the most diverse garden in the region, in terms of plants, conservation collections, landscape features, and historically and architecturally important buildings. Its roles are to underpin scientific research and teaching at the University; and to provide education programmes aimed at all age groups, reaching out into the wider community to demonstrate the contemporary significance of plants in a rapidly changing world.

For more informaton see www.le.ac.uk/botanicgarden

Wild About Gardens Week

The Wild Trusts in partnership with the RHS run Wild About Gardens Week (WAGW) an annual celebration of wildlife gardening, providing a focus to encourage people to use their gardens and take actions to help support wildlife.

Over the past 50 years we've seen declines in two thirds of the UK’s plant and animal species, for a range of reasons including loss of habitat. Many of our common garden species - hedgehogs, house sparrows, starlings and common frogs, for example – are endangered species. Gardens have enormous potential to act as mini-nature reserves. There are 15 million gardens in the UK, estimated to cover about 270,000 hectares – more than the area of all the National Nature Reserves in the UK.

The species focus for this year’s week will be hedgehogs and the actions people can take to make their gardens hedgehog-friendly. This year’s week will also have the additional support from a third partner - Hedgehog Street – which is a joint initiative between the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

LRWT are running a hedgehog-themed event on the 24th October 2015 10.30am – 4pm with children’s activities, adult talks and wildlife group stalls. Come and meet a hedgehog, find out how to make your garden more wildlife friendly, look for hedgehog’s dinner and make a hedgehog life dial.

Hedgehog facts and figures:

-       Hedgehogs are declining sharply in rural locations – urban and suburban gardens are proving to be strongholds, providing essential habitat and supporting crucial populations

-       Hedgehog numbers have fallen by 30% since 2002.

-       Today there are estimated to be fewer than 1 million hedgehogs left in the UK.

-       Reasons for population decline include: habitat fragmentation (and in urban settings barriers to movement such as garden fences); poor habitat quality and diversity (particularly in garden settings); agricultural and garden chemical pesticide use; road casualties; and habitat destruction (e.g. housing development and loss of hedgerows and grasslands). 

-       Adult hedgehogs travel between 1-2km per night over home ranges between 10-20 ha in size.

-       Around 25% of Alderney’s hedgehogs are blonde! This colour mutation, called leucism, is caused by rare recessive genes which become less diluted in contained island populations, especially where predators (such as badgers) are absent.

 

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