Help our hedgehogs! Celebrities urge gardeners to save the nations hedgehogs

Thursday 15 October 2015

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

Twiggy, Ben Fogle, Bill Oddie and Chris Beardshaw are backing Wild About Gardens Week this autumn and urging gardeners to save hedgehogs. The annual celebration of garden wildlife hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and The Wildlife Trusts has joined forces with Hedgehog Street this year to highlight what gardeners can do to help this much-loved yet fast-declining species. See wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk for inspiration, competitions, events and booklet.

High profile supporters of Wild About Gardens Week explain how we can all help:

Ben Fogle, Patron, British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), says:
“Everybody loves hedgehogs! It’s a tragedy that they are disappearing so quickly particularly when it’s so easy to help them. We can all have a go at planting a native hedge, creating gaps in fences for them to pass through, leaving leaf or log piles and allowing parts of the garden to grow wild to give them a home.”

Chris Beardshaw, RHS Ambassador for Community Gardening and patron of BHPS, says:
“As gardeners, we often forget that that the garden is a refuge for our smaller visitors, many of whom have directed and influenced our appreciation of the outdoor environment. Thanks to starring roles in children’s poetry and prose, the likes of bats, owls and squirrels have all played a part, not just in opening our eyes to our gardens and landscape, but as a major connection to our childhood. Some of these distinctive creatures are in decline, in particular the hedgehog - a curiously shy creature which asks very little of gardeners. In fact they even allow us to be a little untidy as they use the leaves and logs for habitat and in return they will munch happily on the molluscs ravaging our favoured plants. When we are tending our gardens please give some thought for the residents and visitors who can benefit from our green spaces and reward us in so many ways.”

Bill Oddie, The Wildlife Trusts’ Vice President, says:
“I can honestly say that I have not come across a wild hedgehog anywhere – whether in the woods or countryside or garden or my garden – for something like three or four years. That is really sad because, let’s face it, they’re one of these little creatures which everyone knows – Mrs Tiggywinkle. It’s an animal that everybody loves. Nobody’s frightened of them. Hedgehogs do a fantastic job in your garden munching up worms in particular, the odd slug occasionally and, I dare say, they’ve been known to crunch open a few snails. Basically the hedgehog is the gardener’s friend. There’s no two ways about that. But not just that they are a delightful addition to your garden fauna –the birds, the animals, the insects - the hedgehogs, they belong there. We need them. They should be part of it. But if you are lucky enough to have them, you’ve got to make it possible for them to get in and to get out. Think of it as the hedgehog door – to food, to adventure and the way back home.”

Twiggy, Patron of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, says:
“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.”

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. 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.
• A twitter Q & A about hedgehogs using #wildgardensQA on Wednesday 28th October between midday and 1pm.
• All information at: www.wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk
 

-Ends-

Notes to editors

Emma Robertshaw, The Wildlife Trusts erobertshaw@wildlifetrusts.org  or 01636 670015 / 07779 657515

Garfield Myrie, RHS garfieldmyrie@rhs.org.uk or 0207 821 3060 / 07590 930047

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

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 see our new booklet – now on the website.

Available for interview
• Helen Bostock, Senior Horticultural Advisor, Royal Horticultural Society
• Henry Johnson, Hedgehog Officer, Hedgehog Street
• Simon Thompson, Hedgehog Officer, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust Hedgehog Improvement Area
• Fay Vass, CEO, British Hedgehog Preservation Society

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

Royal Horticultural Society
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.

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
 

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262