The University of Winchester has been recognised for its hedgehog-friendly campus with a prestigious Gold Hedgehog Friendly award from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS).
The Gold award comes after three years' hard work which began in 2019 and has seen students and staff create hedgehog friendly habitats, set up feeding stations and help to survey hedgehog activity on campus.
The many initiatives undertaken as part of creating a hedgehog-friendly environment included a collaboration between the University and neighbouring Royal Hampshire County Hospital (RHCH) to make Burma Road - which bisects the University's main campus and the RHCH site - the first in Winchester to install road signs requesting drivers to slow down in case there are hedgehogs crossing.
The BHPS estimates that hedgehog numbers have declined by nearly 50 per cent since the turn of the century, with Britain's best-loved mammal now being classified as vulnerable to extinction. 2020 saw hedgehogs move onto the Red List for British Mammals meaning the species are vulnerable, with populations continuing to decline.
Professor Sarah Greer, University of Winchester Vice-Chancellor, said: "This immensely rewarding project to create a hedgehog-friendly campus at the University of Winchester has brought students and staff together to make a big difference to the plight of this much-loved species."
"The University's involvement in the campaign was initiated by students from our Animal Welfare courses, which develop the academic skills and expertise needed to protect animals and advance their welfare."
"As a student involved in this campaign I gained, and improved, many essential skills for the working and volunteering world, including stakeholder engagement, presentation skills and project management," said Carol Cook, who completed a Masters in Animal Welfare, Science, Ethics and Law in 2020.
"The highlight for me, as a student studying animal welfare, was taking meaningful action to improve the welfare of hedgehogs on campus and across the wider Winchester community. I also had the opportunity to collaborate with staff and students across the University, and other university hedgehog teams nationwide, and this was especially rewarding for knowledge sharing and mutual support for each others' ideas and achievements."
Jo Meekley, Environment and Sustainability Officer, said: "We're thrilled to have achieved our Gold accreditation with Hedgehog Friendly Campus. It's a great initiative that generates a lot of interest from students, provides plenty of opportunities for engagement activities, and facilitates teaming up with our neighbours and the local community, all whilst helping to ensure we maintain a healthy habitat for our prickly pals."
"We aim to lead, in the protection of animals and their welfare, and are thrilled at the success of this student-initiated campaign. We hope other universities will now follow suit," added Professor Andrew Knight, Director, Centre for Animal Welfare at the University.
The University of Winchester is one of 13 universities across the UK to achieve Gold status in 2022.
The accreditation follows the team's successful Bronze accreditation in the 2019/20 academic year and a Silver accreditation in 2021.
Hedgehog Friendly Campus is a national accreditation programme funded by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS). Universities, FE colleges and primary schools across the UK are urged to take part, completing activities that help to bring hedgehogs back from the brink.Back to media centre