It’s Hedgehog Awareness Week, organised every year by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) to highlight the problems hedgehogs face and how you can help them. This year Cambridge City Council is helping Cambridge Hedgehogs, a new charity, to give hedgehogs a higher profile both during the campaign and all year around.
Hedgehog Awareness Week: https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/hedgehog-awareness-week-2019/
In the UK hedgehog numbers have declined by 97% since the 1950s, and this is a particular issue in Trumpington, where I’m the local councillor. When I was first out canvassing in Trumpington in 2016, I met many Green Party members living in the ward and we talked about biodiversity loss in the ward as development increased and the number of new dwellings was delivered. What seemed to be a thriving population of local hedgehogs had dwindled as new homes increased. I was shocked about the news, and that I had not been aware of the situation.
We like our cities to be tidy, with fences renewed, undergrowth cleared, lawns kept clear, but to stop species loss and start an increase we must now emulate our natural systems – and nature is not tidy or static. As much of Cambridge has been tidied up and manicured, wildlife has lost out, and the provision of over four thousand new homes is clearly one factor in the drastic drop in hedgehog numbers in the south.
Urban Wildlife: http://theconversation.com/how-hyper-manicured-public-spaces-hurt-urban-wildlife-109449 and https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/16/urban-butterfly-declines-69-compared-to-45-drop-countryside
We want to change this. One way is simply to make more space for wildlife. In the Southern Fringe developments and Darwin Green we have nearly one hundred green spaces being transferred to Cambridge City Council, including allotments, play areas, formal green spaces and two country parks. Without a doubt these will benefit wildlife and biodiversity.
But we also need to make sure that the animals we want to encourage can thrive. A hedgehog will travel 1-2km in search of food and, when the time is right, to mate, and can range over an astonishing 24 acres. Or it would, if it wasn’t for our tidy gardens and well-kept fences getting in the way. So we want to give the hedgehogs a chance, and let them roam more freely by creating hedgehog highways within our urban landscape.
This means putting hedgehog sized holes in fences, so the Street and Open Spaces team will be working with Cambridge Hedgehogs and volunteers to distribute leaflets and will help to create doorways for people who want them over the coming weeks. Together we can make Cambridge a hedgehog haven!
Hedgehog Awareness Week is just a start. Once we’re thinking about hedgehogs we should then think of all the small mammals and insects living in urban and rural spaces. As the report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), said just today, the health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever so your Labour City Council is looking at ways to enhance biodiversity in many different ways.
Download your own copy of the hedgehog awareness leaflet here (PDF)
And if you spot a hedgehog, please add it to the Big Hedgehog Map