Recently, I travelled to the LSE Sportsground with a couple of my colleagues and three enthusiastic student volunteers who had signed up, to help carry out a series of actions to contribute towards LSE achieving Silver Hedgehog Friendly Campus accreditation for 2022.
Hedgehog Friendly Campus is a British Hedgehog Preservation Society-funded national biodiversity programme for universities. The project offers free support to staff and students to make impactful changes for hedgehogs. Last year, LSE was awarded bronze status, and we hope to achieve silver this year!
Why do we care about our Hedgehog Friendly Campus status? Sadly, because the hedgehog population numbers have halved since 2000, and there is estimated to be less than a million left. A combination of stressors, such as roads, lack of natural habitat, food and water, and increased predation, means that hedgehogs are finding it increasingly difficult to survive and thrive in the UK. Universities can be seen as a microcosm of society, and if we can raise awareness and instil hedgehog-friendly behaviours in our student base, then we ultimately hope to make a positive difference to hedgehog habitats.
The volunteering trip to LSE Sportsground took place so that we could complete several actions on the awarding criteria, that ultimately should support Hedgehogs. This included a litter pick, hedgerow survey, hedgehog hazards audit, survey of the current hedgehog house, and checking the safety measures in place for grounds staff to be aware of hedgehogs and how to care for them in the event of injury. The students played an invaluable role in helping us work through these.
Regretfully, LSE Sportsground didn’t yet have any evidence of resident hedgehogs, but the day was a fantastic education for all involved into why this might be. Fox dens were identified in two locations (and the groundskeeper had some lovely photos of the cubs!), which we imagine would have a significant impact on the likelihood that hedgehogs settle there, as foxes are predators. In terms of human-induced stressors, we felt LSE had done everything they could reasonably do to encourage our spiky friends to make a home there, and instead factors beyond our control including lack of movement to neighbouring gardens, predation, and roads probably presented the biggest hazards. We’ve decided, based on this, to focus the rest of the Hedgehog Friendly Campus work on educating and raising awareness, where we feel we can make the biggest impact as a university.
If you are interested in helping the LSE Sustainability Team with any future work towards achieving Hedgehog Friendly Campus Silver level, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are especially interested in hearing from students who would like to get involved with communications, fundraising and awareness building activities.