Hogging the Limelight: Leeds wins Silver Hedgehog Award
Last year, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society awarded the University of Leeds the Bronze Hedgehog Friendly Campus award. Now, that has been upgraded to Silver! The University’s Biodiversity Monitoring Team has worked hard to ensure that our campus is a safe space for hedgehogs to venture into.
Like many global species, the biggest threat hedgehogs face is habitat loss. They usually inhabit woodland edges like hedgerows or brambles but often have to pass through urban areas. They find themselves crossing busy roads or end up in people’s back gardens. The trouble is, they are nocturnal, so are often difficult to see. Hedgehogs can be hit by cars or harmed by garden equipment; get tangled in any netting or fall into ponds. It’s unsurprising hedgehog populations are in decline.
However, for the last two years, the University of Leeds Biodiversity Monitoring Team has worked really hard alongside the ground staff to ensure that our campus is a safe space for hedgehogs.
The team is made up of volunteers, headed by myself. We started our work by identifying any resident hedgehogs, setting up footprint tunnels near Charles Morris and St. Georges Field. Any animals passing through would inadvertently mark a piece of paper with their footprints. We quickly found hedgehogs on campus!
The University grounds team keeps St. Georges Field in a ‘wild’ state. There are plenty of native brambles, deciduous trees, and hedgerows, all providing hedgehogs with the perfect place to curl up into a ball and sleep the day away. The team also planted some of these species earlier this year around Charles Morris and built some log piles on campus to increase opportunities for hedgehogs to make themselves at home.
Hedgehogs are just one of the many species that the Biodiversity Monitoring Team is trying to help. The campus has three transects, all of which are used to monitor the number of pollinator species, the range of bird species and count any bats that fly overhead during dusk. After walking along these routes and collecting data, the team can identify which areas of campus are attractive to native species. These are called biodiversity hotspots.
A hotspot is formed by the presence of certain flowers or vegetation driving the distribution of species. The grounds team uses the data we collect to plant more of these plants around campus. This way the University hopes to contribute to conservation efforts and maintain a high level of biodiversity in the UK.
If you would like to learn how to carry out these surveys, become a biodiversity volunteer and work towards conserving biodiversity on campus and in the UK, please contact email@example.com.