This week I wanted to talk about hedgehogs, especially as Bonfire Night is only just around the corner. This year the annual celebration of garden wildlife hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and The Wildlife Trusts has joined forces with Hedgehog Street to highlight what gardeners can do to help this much-loved yet fast-declining species.
Hedgehogs are in trouble – research by People’s Trust for Endangered Species shows that hedgehogs have declined by 30% in the last 10 years alone and there are now thought to be fewer than one million left in the UK. To help encourage people across Britain to think about how to make their gardens, schools and community spaces hedgehog-friendly, this year’s Wild About Gardens Week will be a call to action and a celebration of the humble hedgehog, packed with events, competitions and opportunities to get stuck in.
The main drivers of hedgehog decline are thought to be: declining hedgerow quality; the over-management of parks and green space; loss of gardens to paving/decking; reduced insect prey from chemical use in gardens and on farmland; loss of grazing land; the fragmentation of land by roads, fencing and increasing density of native predators.
So what can you do in your garden to help? Choose plant species that are attractive to a range of insects; make a wood pile; allow a patch of grass to grow long; mulch beds with garden compost; make a fallen leaf pile; build a bug hotel; leave hollow plant stems over winter; and create nesting opportunities. We are asking you to create the perfect habitat for all the insects that hedgehogs feed on to survive and to create places for them to live. Another great thing to do is to put a small hole at the bottom of your fence to allow them to move around freely from garden to garden! Visit wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk for inspiration, competitions, events and a booklet!
Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger
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