THREATENED HEDGEHOGS could be right at home in your churchyard...
The People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) have called on the Church of England to support a new survey, launched this month, monitoring the decline of the British hedgehog.
Working with Shrinking the Footprint, the Church of Englandâ€™s national environmental campaign, the charities believe the Church's 10,000 churchyards could be natural homes for hedgehogs who will soon be coming out of hibernation.
The Hedgehog Hibernation survey aims to find out more about the creature's patterns of behaviour, which in turn will help inform practical conservation action. Hedgehog numbers in Britain are declining by three to five per cent each year in towns and in the rural landscape, with the loss most apparent in the South West, South East and Eastern regions of England, according to the results of a ten-year trend analysis by the charity.
Judith Evans promoter of the Living Churchyard scheme for St Albans diocese said:
"There certainly seem to be far fewer hedgehogs around than there used to be. Like all animals, hedgehogs need food and shelter, both of which are likely to be found in the increasing number of churchyards which are managed in a wildlife-friendly way.
"The Living Churchyard scheme encourages the creation of compost heaps and log piles which as well as acting as a larder, containing slugs and other invertebrates, provide shelter. It would be very encouraging to find evidence of hedgehogs in our churchyards, so I hope churches will take part in this survey."
David Shreeve the Church of England's national environmental adviser said: "Supporting this survey underlines the Church's commitment to caring for creation, as spelled out in the Fifth Mark of Mission*. Our 10,000 churchyards boast a wealth of wildlife and are hopefully home to a good number of hedgehogs.
To join in the Hibernation Survey please visit > www.hedgehogstreet.org