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Howbery Park helps hedgehogs

Howbery Business Park, near Wallingford, has been focusing on improving support for hedgehogs in its grounds for a year, as part of a six-year biodiversity programme. The team has added hedgehog houses,  worked on improving food supplies and checked there are corridors through the park for the prickly creatures to move.

In recognition of meeting criteria set out by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and Nurture Landscapes, Howbery Park received a BHPS inscription on its biodiversity award. The hedgehog work takes Howbery to the half way point in the Nurture Biodiversity Scheme, having supported birds and bumblebees in the first two years on the programme.

In terms of improving food sources for the hedgehogs, the team made sure there were plenty of logs left around the park, stacking them vertically, rather than horizontally, to provide a good habitats for beetles and other insects – an important part of their diet.

As the scheme also required Howbery to help raise the profile of the prickly creatures, the park hosted a popular lunchtime talk for the local community. Howbery also joined the BHPS to benefit from its advice, for example in adding stickers to strimmers to remind gardeners to check for hedgehogs before using them.

Trail cameras showed that hedgehogs have already been hibernating in some of the new homes over last winter. The team has moved the houses that the hedgehogs haven’t used yet to more secluded areas on the park.

“We will continue to monitor hedgehog house use,” said Howbery Park Estates Manager Donna Bowles. “While our focus is switching to insects this year, that doesn’t mean we stop supporting hedgehogs suddenly – the focus year is just the starting point for ongoing work. We’re currently looking at adding some more hedgerows, for example. Plus, of course, by trying to increase insect numbers and variety, we will be providing more food for hedgehogs.”

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