Hedgehog conservation initiaves

To mark the upcoming Hedgehog Awareness Week (5th – 11th May), thedirt.news sheds light on the various conservation campaigns and initiatives working to halt their decline.


The west European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is one of about 17 hedgehog species worldwide and unmistakable as Britain’s only spiny mammal. Their highly specialised coat contains around 6,000 creamy-brown spines and hangs around their body in a loose-ish ‘skirt’, concealing greyish fur on their underside, surprisingly long legs and a short tail.

As distant relatives of shrews, hedgehogs have changed little in the past 15 million years. They are generalists that can be found across a wide range of rural and urban habitats, although they are absent from moors, coniferous plantations, wetlands and some islands.

Status of Britain’s hedgehogs

Hedgehogs in Britain have undergone a long historic decline, but differences between urban and rural populations are increasingly apparent. According to the State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2022 report, urban hedgehog populations appear to be stabilising and showing signs of recovery, following decades of decline. This highlights the importance of gardens and green spaces, and local action, in ensuring a future for hedgehogs. In stark contrast however, rural populations remain low. In the last two decades, numbers have continued to decline by between a third and three-quarters nationally. The largest declines are seen in the eastern half of England.

Published by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), the 2018 State of Britain’s report showed that hedgehogs had declined by half in rural areas and a third in our towns and cities since 2000, and crucially demonstrated that the decline in urban areas was starting to slow. This is corroborated by the 2022 report which now indicates that the situation in urban areas appears to be improving.

Hedgehog conservation campaigns and initiatives

  • National Hedgehog Monitoring Programme (NHMP): The NHMP is a new survey monitoring hedgehog numbers and population health. The data gathered also provides regional and habitat differences in hedgehog populations and the factors impact them. The programme was launched by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) – in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, Zoological Society of London, Mammal Web, London HogWatch and Durham University.
  • Hedgehog Street provides tips on Hedgehog friendly gardening, the establishment of hedgehog highways and the registration of hedgehog champions to spread the word and the cause.
  • Hugh Warwick’s petition: a plea to ensure that all new housing developments include ‘hedgehog highways’ – a 13 cm hole in the bottom of fences to allows hedgehogs to move freely between gardens to find food and find a mate. A simple move that would have a big impact on the UK’s hedgehogs. The petition was started Warwick, an ecologist in 2018 has been supported by over a million signatures but needs another 30o,000+ signatures to reach its goal.
  • The National Highways ‘Lend a Paw’ campaign led in partnership with FCB London, raises awareness of the impact of road network littering on wildlife, which includes hedgehogs.
  • Hedgehog safety tests developed by researchers for robotic lawnmowers for a certification scheme of ‘hedgehog-friendly’ mowers to help protect the endangered mammals.
  • Hedgehog Friendly Campus & Schools gives awards to universities, FE colleges, secondary and primary schools who complete actions required to be recognised as being hedgehog-friendly.
  • Direct donations for wild UK hedgehogs to protect their future and welfare – PTES Hedgehog donations and BHPS donations via JustGiving.

Further hedgehog reading

  • Comprehensive research paper, Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research is available for (free) download. The paper, by Anne Berger, Nigel Reeve and Sophie Lund Rasmussen brings together some of the most significant research of recent years. An anthology of 30 recent articles, the paper helps to fill some of the many gaps in our knowledge of hedgehogs and describes new hedgehog study approaches. By bringing the articles together in this paper, the researchers hope to inspire further research to contribute to evidence-based conservation initiatives in order to protect this much-loved species and prevent further population decline.