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Press release: Help our hedgehogs! Gardeners encouraged to unite to save the nation’s hedgehogs

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Wild About Gardens Week: Monday 26 October to Sunday 1 November 2015

Wild About Gardens Week, the annual celebration of garden wildlife hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society and The Wildlife Trusts, is teaming up with Hedgehog Street this year to highlight how gardeners can help our hedgehogs. This much-loved creature is declining in Britain as fast as the tiger.

Hedgehogs are in trouble – they 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 right across Britain to think about how hedgehog friendly their gardens, schools and community spaces are, this year’s Wild About Gardens Week will form a week-long call to action and a celebration of the humble hedgehog, packed with events, competitions and opportunities to get stuck in. This will include:

• A national call to action to create hedgehog holes in fences – a handy 13cm by 13cm template can be downloaded from the Wild About Gardens Week website.
• A competition to design the best hedgehog home. There will be three categories: individual, group and school. The prizes will range from a trail camera to a visit from a hedgehog expert. Closing date: Monday 9 November 2015.
• A host of hedgehog-themed events around the UK, from talks and workshops to community activities. At RHS Garden Harlow Carr, a new garden will be launched in participation with Hedgehog Street, showcasing hedgehog friendly planting and design. Add your event or search for those happening near you at: www.wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk/events
• A downloadable new booklet, available from the Wild About Gardens Week website, will demonstrate steps you can take to help hedgehogs in your garden.
• All information at: www.wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk

Twiggy, Patron of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, said:
“Seeing hedgehogs in our garden when I was a child was a magical experience. Now we all need to help these special mammals – and there’s so much that gardeners can do to reverse their decline. You can cut a small hedgehog hole at the bottom of your garden fence, leave wild nesting and hibernation areas, ditch the slug pellets and check that bonfire before striking the match! All so easy to do. Please help these wonderful creatures”

Hedgehog facts and figures:
• Hedgehog numbers have fallen by 30% since 2002
• Today there are estimated to be fewer than 1 million hedgehogs left in the UK. The main drivers 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.
• Adult hedgehogs travel between 1-2 kilometres per night over home ranges between 10-30 hectares in size.
For more information about how to help hedgehogs please see notes below or our new ‘Get creative for hedgehogs this autumn’ booklet – now on the website.

ENDS
Contact:
Adam Budhram, Press Officer, The Royal Horticultural Society, adambudhram@rhs.org.uk, 020 7821 3366, OR Sophie Dawson, Senior Community Horticulture Programme Coordinator, sophiedawson@rhs.org.uk, 020 7821 3118

Anna Guthrie, Media and PR Manager, The Wildlife Trusts. aguthrie@wildlifetrusts.org,
01636 670075 / 07887 754 659

Susannah Penn, Hedgehog Street. sp@firebirdpr.co.uk, 01235 835 297

Notes to editors

Wild About Gardens
The Wildlife Trusts and the RHS set up Wild About Gardens www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk in 2009. Wild About Gardens Week was established in 2013. It is an annual celebration of wildlife gardening and provides a focus to encourage people to use their gardens and take action to help support wildlife.

Over the past 50 years we’ve seen declines in two thirds of the UK’s plant and animal species, for a range of reasons including loss of habitat. Many of our common garden species – hedgehogs, house sparrows, starlings and common frogs, for example – are increasingly endangered. Gardens have enormous potential to act as mini-nature reserves. There are 15 million gardens in the UK, estimated to cover about 270,000 hectares – more than the area of all the National Nature Reserves in the UK.

The Wildlife Trusts
There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We manage around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves and visitor centres receive millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas. wildlifetrusts.org

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.

The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing over 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

Hedgehog Street
Hedgehog Street is a campaign by People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) aimed at ensuring the hedgehog, the UK’s only spiny mammal, remains a common and familiar part of British life. We know hedgehogs are in trouble. We’ve lost a third of all our hedgehogs in ten years. Fortunately, hedgehogs love gardens, and there are around half a million hectares of garden in the UK. Hedgehogs need access to lots and lots of different gardens to survive, so this campaign is as much about getting people to cooperate as it is about gardening for wildlife.

Wherever you live, the green space in your local area can be a vital refuge for hedgehogs.

Hedgehog sightings are recorded through several annual wildlife surveys and an independent study (The State of Britain’s’ Hedgehogs) was commissioned by People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) in September 2010 to compare the results of data gathered from these surveys over the last 15 years. This review has allowed PTES and BHPS to establish clear scientific evidence of the decline in hedgehog populations across the UK.

PTES and BHPS launched Hedgehog Street together in June 2011 to encourage hedgehog conservation action at a local community or neighbourhood level. Over 34,000 volunteer “Hedgehog Champions” up and down the country have registered to help to date and the campaign is ongoing, but we still need your help to make a difference.

In 2013, PTES also published a long-term trend analysis based on their Living with Mammals and Mammals on Roads surveys which showed that hedgehog populations have plummeted by over a third in the last ten years.

www.hedgehogstreet.org

Welcome the Hedgehog – detail from the Wild About Gardens Week booklet

To save the hedgehog we need people to work together with neighbours to make small changes that will make a big difference. This is crucial because no garden or green space can help hedgehogs in isolation, but when they are linked together hedgehogs can thrive in any urban space

Create hedgehog highways
Hedgehogs need to be able to roam far and wide in search of food, mates and nesting sites. Get together with your neighbours to cut a 13cm2 (5in2) hole in your fence or dig a channel beneath garden boundaries to connect your gardens. You can pledge to make a hole in your fence and map it at www.hedgehogstreet.org
Avoid the use of pesticides
Ditch the slug pellets and avoid the use pesticides. Hedgehogs are natural pest controllers and need a plentiful and varied supply of invertebrate prey to stay healthy.

Make water safe
Hedgehogs are great swimmers but can sometimes struggle to climb out of steep sided ponds and many drown. Provide a ramp out of a plank wrapped in chicken wire or create shallow areas at the edge so they can scramble out.

Provide nesting sites
Log and leaf piles, wilderness areas and purpose-built hedgehog homes make great places for hedgehogs to nest and hibernate. Fallen leaves also make the perfect nesting material, so make sure you don’t clear all of these away.

Grow a wide variety of plants
Attract plenty of natural hedgehog food by keeping your garden diverse with a wide variety of habitats e.g. ponds, log piles, hedges, and a wide range of plant types. Don’t be afraid to let your grass grow a little wild and leave some leaf litter – as both are important homes for the hedgehog’s prey.

Be aware of dangers
Check for hidden hedgehogs before lighting bonfires, strimming and mowing the lawn. Keep plant netting, tennis nets and household rubbish above ground level to prevent entanglement.
Our prickly friends also need help in urban areas too. Here are some top tips for getting involved:
• Post some invitations around your local neighbours to make them aware of what they can do to help. You could even throw a hedgehog-themed party to break the ice.

• If you live in a flat, try and influence the management of local green space by attending management meetings or joining the ‘friends of’ group.

• If you are worried about rats, don’t put out grain based foods on the floor. Take in any excess food when your hedgehogs have been for a visit.

• If you do have hogs in your garden, you could set up a feeding station by cutting a clear hole in a plastic storage box and weighing down the lid with bricks: this will stop cats and foxes taking the food.

• Keep an eye out for people doing work on their gardens, or using fencing contractors – this is a prime time to get a hedgehog hole put in and influence connectivity.

Let's keep in touch...

We'd love to tell you about our conservation work through our regular newsletter Wildlife World, and also how you can save endangered species through volunteering, taking action or donating. You must be 18 or over. The information that you provide will be held by People’s Trust for Endangered Species. For information on how PTES processes personal data, please see our privacy policy.

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