Hedgehog Improvement Areas – A new landmark for hedgehog conservation in Warwickshire

Solihull is to become the nation’s first dedicated hedgehog conservation area in 2015 thanks to funding from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS). Warwickshire Wildlife Trust will be delivering the Solihull Hedgehog Improvement Area (HIA), which aims to empower local residents to rally together to help the struggling species.

 

HIA Foundations

Back in spring 2013 Warwickshire Wildlife Trust launched the Help for Hedgehogs campaign in response to increasing evidence that one of the nation’s most loved species, was declining at an alarming rate both locally and across the UK.

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Hedgehogs are truly captivating little mammals and from the outset we knew that any campaign aimed at conserving them would need to be equally as appealing as to suitably engage with local communities and create meaningful lasting change.

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A huge amount has been achieved by the Help for Hedgehogs campaign since 2013. We have raised a significant amount of funds that have allowed us to raise awareness about hedgehog conservation issues and the level of genuine interest from the community on the whole and from schools/local businesses has been especially strong.

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Since 2013 over 1000 sightings of hedgehogs have been sent in to us, which has built-up a picture of where hedgehogs are still present and highlighted the ideal “hot spot” areas where we can target our efforts to really help the species. (You can submit your sightings here).

The next logical step for the campaign was bridge the gap between the successful awareness raising, fundraising and partnership working elements of our work with the need for practical grassroots conservation improvements for hedgehogs in each “hot spot” area.

The HIA concept

Hedgehog Improvement Areas (HIA’s) are designated hedgehog conservation action areas that have been prioritised for their suitability and potential for making a measurable difference for local hedgehog populations. Through this mixed method approach to community-based conservation, the HIA aims to bolster local hedgehog populations and inspire local people and organisations to take action to help their local hedgehogs.

The HIA approach comprises of three main elements: habitat improvements, ecological survey work and community engagement. Below is a conceptual framework of how we see the HIA’s influencing positive change for the species.

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The HIA in Solihull has been chosen for its potential for:

  1. Incorporating a “Hedgehog Reserve” – The area must have a suitable green space at its core to act as a central “sanctuary” that hedgehogs can then colonise surrounding areas from over time.
  1. Working with local communities – The idea is to bring communities together to make long-lasting improvements for hedgehogs in each area.
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  2. Measuring success – The area must provide suitable conditions to survey and monitor hedgehog abundance and distribution.
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  3. Working with local partners – The area should include a network of existing partners, where relationships can continue to be built upon with local landowners (including schools, businesses community groups). We are delighted to be working in partnership with a number of national and local organisations on the HIA initiative including the BHPS, Reading University and the People’s Trust for Endangered species.
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  4. Establishing or increasing hedgehog populations – HIA’s should include areas with existing hedgehog populations and those without, in order to outline several separate conservation management approaches that will be applicable to other focus areas in the future.

New Hedgehog Officer Role

We are looking for a dynamic individual to deliver the Solihull HIA in its first year. This exciting role includes working on an extensive range of unique hedgehog conservation projects in partnership with the local community of Elmdon in Solihull and the wider area. If you are interested in applying for the position please click here.

Happy Hogs Hedgehog Rescue - Solihull

If you would like to know about about the Help for Hedgehogs Campaign click here.

Also visit the excellent BHPS and Hedgehog Street websites for further information about how you can help hedgehogs today!

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