Local housebuilder Russell Armer Homes has taken positive action to bolster dwindling hedgehog populations by helping the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) prepare a high-profile guide to protecting local hedgehog numbers and preventing further decline.
Britain’s favourite mammal is under threat from habitat loss – something that’s exacerbated by increasing fragmentation of the landscape as a result of human activity, including the installation of fences and walls, as well as road and house building. The new guide, published by Hedgehog Street, is titled Hedgehogs and Development and is designed to encourage developers, planners and landscape professionals to make small changes in new housing developments that will help hedgehogs to thrive.
Russell Armer has been exploring ways of supporting local hedgehog populations at its sites across Cumbria and Lancashire. Special gaps, or ‘Hedgehog Highways’, are being installed in the boundaries of new homes in Oakfield Park, Kirkby Lonsdale and Squirrel Close, Yanwath to create a connected habitat that allows hedgehogs to access gardens and cross green spaces in search of food, nesting sites and mates.
Martyn Nicholson, Managing Director at Russell Armer Homes says: ‘We are delighted to become Hedgehog Champions by creating what we believe to be Cumbria and Lancashire’s first Hedgehog Highways. Hedgehogs have been associated with the area for many years, thanks to Beatrix Potter’s Tales, and it is important to look after their welfare.
‘We’ve had really positive responses from clients who buy a home on the developments and even those who just come for a viewing! It’s a real talking point and we’re pleased to be doing our bit for wildlife. We hope homeowners who are not living in a home with a gap in their fence and other developers will follow our lead and remove a brick or cut a gap in their own fencing.’
Emily Wilson, Hedgehog Officer for Hedgehog Street commented: ‘Hedgehog Highways are a fantastic solution. We offer special plaques (made from recycled plastic) which tell current and future homeowners why the hole is there and what it’s for, which hopefully will keep it open forever. By working together, we can bring these animals back from the brink.’
Hedgehog Street is backed by two charities – the BHPS and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) – who have been working together since 2011 5o help stop the dramatic decline in hedgehog population numbers. In addition to the new developers’ guide, Hedgehog Street has also produced one for farmers and rural land owners (Helping Hedgehogs on Your Land), and one aimed at land managers of urban or suburban green space (Hedgehog Ecology and Land Management).