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Hedgehog honour for UEA

The University of East Anglia (UEA) has been acknowledged for its work towards becoming a hedgehog-friendly campus with a Bronze accreditation from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS).

This recognises the work led by a team of students and staff who have come together with a mutual love of the prickly creatures.

The new scheme, which is run by the BHPS, sets out a range of initiatives pitched at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels. 

UEA has received a Bronze award in the first round of accreditation its work around adapting grounds maintenance practices, awareness-raising and fundraising events. They’ve also trained estates staff about what to do if they find a sick or injured creature.

Hedgehog numbers in the UK have declined by up to a half since the year 2000. And it’s now estimated that there are fewer than 1 million left in the UK because of things like roads, litter and a lack of food, water and natural habitat.

Tom Everett, Landscape Manager at UEA, said: “Universities have lots of accreditation schemes and league tables, but this is something a little bit different.

“Our 360-acre campus supports many habitats of ecological conversation and unique biodiversity, some being just outside teaching spaces. That’s not something every university can boast, so we should be very proud of this asset, and in return, lets help to preserve and raise awareness so everyone can enjoy them.”

Student Jess Scragg, who is president of the Environmental Sciences society, said: “I thought the scheme would be a great project for our student society to back, so I got in touch with the University and several other student societies, and our numbers grew from there.

“Lots of us are doing degrees focussed on the natural environment so it’s nice to get involved with protecting it here at UEA, and it’s been lovely to see how many people are interested in the project- everyone loves a hedgehog!”

UEA is now working towards Silver status and hope to introduce regular litter picks and creating hedgehog highways on site.

After receiving training from BHPS, the team are planning to conduct a hedgehog survey once they are out of hibernation in April, which will give a better indication of the campus population.

The news comes after the UEA campus has been awarded a Green Flag award for three years running, recognising the dedication of the estates and grounds team, who look after 5,793 species of plant and animal on campus.

The UEA site, on the outskirts of Norwich is open to the public and includes a series of waymarked trails, the Sainsbury Centre and Sportspark facilities.

UEA has been recognised alongside Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Essex, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, Gloucestershire, Keele, Kent, Lancaster, Lincoln, Liverpool, Loughborough, Northampton, Northumbria, Roehampton, Sheffield, Surrey, UWE Bristol, Winchester, Worcester, York and York St John.

Members of the public can get involved in the scheme too, email: hedgehogs@uea.ac.uk, join the 'Hedgehog Champions of UEA' Facebook Group, or follow @hogfriendlyUEA on Twitter.