How hedgehog friendly is Ipswich?
Almost two years ago Suffolk Wildlife Trust set out, with support from Heritage Lottery Fund and British Hedgehog Preservation Society, on a mission to make Ipswich the most hedgehog friendly town in the UK. Now it is asking for help to build a picture of just how hedgehog friendly the town has become.
The Trust is asking members of the public in Ipswich (and beyond), to record hedgehog-friendly activity on a website. This will allow hedgehog officer Ali North to map areas of the town that have been made accessible and welcoming to hedgehogs.
A new recording system will ask not only for sightings of hedgehogs - it will also ask people to specifically record the location of hedgehog nest boxes, wildlife-friendly gardens and hedgehog highways (access holes in fences). This information will tell the Trust where hedgehogs can move throughout the town, where they are using nest boxes and if these actions sit alongside hedgehog-friendly gardening activity. Ipswich residents are also invited to upload a picture of their hedgehog-highway to request a special Hedgehog Street sign to encourage future residents to keep access points - even if current householders move away.
The mapping of hedgehog sightings alongside hedgehog-friendly gardens will allow the Trust to look further at the connections between actions taken by members of the public and numbers of hedgehogs seen.
A recent report published by The People's Trust for Endangered Species and British Hedgehog Preservation Society highlighted how important urban environments have become for hedgehogs. The report found that the decline of hedgehogs is increasing in the countryside, but looks to be slowing in urban areas. This is likely to be in no small part down to the actions of individuals and neighbourhoods.
Hedgehog officer Ali North said: "Hedgehogs are waking up, so now's the time to start collecting information about what people are doing to help hedgehogs where they live. I have a feeling the networks of gardens and green spaces that have been opened up for hedgehogs have been making a real difference."
Ali continued: "It's not too late to start, and we can help you. I've got several courses planned over the coming months for those wanting to make their gardens and local green spaces more inviting for hedgehogs - culminating with a hedgehog parade in Ipswich on 1 September to celebrate the town's hedgehog-friendly status."
People are encouraged to visit the Trust's website to sign up as a hedgehog champion and encourage fiends and neighbours to take action for hedgehogs.