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Supporting School’s Hedgehog Survey for Hedgehog Awareness Week

The London Borough of Bromley
The London Borough of Bromley | 2021 | Bromley

School children help monitor local hedgehog population

idverde’s Bromley team worked with St James’ Primary School to provide information on hedgehogs and to help the school carry out a hedgehog survey for 2021’s Hedgehog Awareness Week.

More projects for The London Borough of Bromley

Biodiveristy & Ecology in Bromley

Maintaining and improving ecology and biodiversity is an important part of idverde’s Parks Management contract with the London Borough of Bromley, and is supported by our relationship with the RSPB. Part of this work includes undertaking surveys of various species in the area. We also aim to provide educational projects which the community can take part in and take ownership of, including local schools, friends groups, and allotment holders.

Helping our hedgehogs

In 2016, the hedgehog was voted Britain’s favourite mammal in a public vote by the Royal Society of Biology. Unfortunately, the species is now in steep decline, with estimates of a UK hedgehog population of 1 million, compared with 30 million 70 years ago.

During Hedgehog Awareness Week we worked with St James’ Primary School on a five-day citizen science project, which saw Year 6 children conducting hedgehog footprint tunnel surveys in their school grounds, which borders Jubilee Country Park. This was backed up with a hedgehog ecology course and a pre-recorded video on making and conducting hedgehog footprint tunnel surveys, delivered remotely by idverde’s Environmental Education Instructor.

The school children made a footprint tunnel and placed it within their school grounds. This was done at the end of the school day and the paper was checked and replaced when the children came into school the next day. By using carbon powder mixed with vegetable oil that was painted at the entrances to the tunnels, and blank white paper positioned on both entrances to the tunnel, small mammals including hedgehogs can be enticed with food into the tunnel and through the ink which will leave footprints on the white paper. Conducting Hedgehog footprint tunnel surveys is a non-intrusive way of gathering data on small mammal presence. It can be set up easily by all ages and is a popular way to introduce survey techniques to our aspiring young naturalists.

So that the animals get used to seeing the tunnels we advised that the tunnels should be left for five days, changing the paper and food each day.

The school children have thoroughly enjoyed the project so far, and are looking forward to analysing and sharing their survey results.

The lead teacher for the Year 6 group who undertook the survey commented: “We are always keen to encourage our children to get involved in the preservation of their environment and this is a great opportunity for all the school to get involved. We didn’t tell Year 6 about the content of your webinar in advance, so a great cheer went up when they found out it was about hedgehogs! Thank you!”

Sue Holland, idverde Bromley’s Countryside Manager, said: “We were delighted to be able to work with St James’ Primary School for this survey project. Hedgehogs, being nocturnal animals, are difficult to survey. We hope that by involving schools and allotments that border Bromley’s parks and green spaces to conduct hedgehog footprint tunnel surveys we will have an army of willing volunteers who can collect vital data on whether hedgehogs are present on these sites. This will help us map out hedgehog sightings throughout Bromley and to create and maintain green corridors linking areas and helping hedgehogs travel safely between sites to forage and breed.

“We will also be able to increase awareness of the vulnerability of hedgehogs, and the importance of linking and maintaining green corridors. Projects like this also help to support positive relations with Bromley’s educational sector and allotment sector, and help to deliver the aims of Bromley’s Biodiversity Action Plan.

“Thank you to Year 6 of St James’ Primary for helping to monitor our local hedgehog population – we look forward to seeing the results of your survey.”