An image of a hedgehog in the grass
Photo by Bill Fairs on Unsplash

As MPs call for new protections for hedgehog nesting sites in a bid to reverse decades of falling numbers, staff at Edge Hill University have launched their own campaign to help protect the animal on campus.

The proposed amendment, which has the backing of 13 MPs, would add hedgehogs to the list of protected animals under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

This would see hedgehogs be given the same level of protection as bats and badgers and require developers to look for hedgehogs on proposed sites and take action to reduce the impacts on them.

Led by Sustainability Manager Dan Bocharnikov, Edge Hill has joined the Hedgehog Friendly Campus scheme to raise awareness of the plight of the hedgehog while taking practical steps to improve habitats and circumstances for hedgehogs across university campuses.

A report in 2018 suggested UK hedgehog numbers had halved since 2000. Rough estimations place the current population at one million, compared to 30 million during the 1950s.

Dan Bocharnikov, Sustainability Manager, said: “Hedgehogs are facing population decline and have been for several years. There’s been habitat loss caused by encroaching on the nesting and their hibernation sites in urban areas but also the removal of hedgerows in more rural areas as well.

“We’re really trying to improve the policy that we have on campus, increase awareness and hopefully change the policy in the whole of the UK.”

Sponsored by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), the Hedgehog Friendly Campus scheme has three levels; bronze, silver and gold. Edge Hill is aiming to obtain the bronze level in 2020/21.

Hedgehog on campus in grass curled into a ball
Hedgehog ‘Rufus’ discovered on campus

In order to obtain the accreditation, the University has introduced several initiatives to raise awareness and improve the University’s policy. This includes hosting awareness events, training gardeners and security teams on how to help an ill or distressed hedgehog and building hedgehog homes across the campus to provide the spiky creatures with safe spaces to hibernate.

This latest initiative follows on from Edge Hill’s recent success in the Green Flag Awards, which the University secured for the ninth year in a row, in recognition of the campus grounds and green spaces and their benefit to the environment.

These measures are being taken as part of a wider plan to increase biodiversity on campus, a key theme of the University’s Environmental Sustainability Report for 2019/20.

If you are interested in getting involved in the scheme please contact sustainability@edgehill.ac.uk.