In an industry-first initiative, Bovis Homes, part of the newly-formed Vistry Group, will install hedgehog highways to its existing developments and all future sites wherever possible, as part of a campaign that will also help other small mammals, birds, frogs and insects.
The housebuilder has also donated £5,000 to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and teamed up with national project Hedgehog Street - a joint undertaking between BHPS and People’s Trust for Endangered Species - to further support their work.
Regional marketing manager, Louise Macrae, said: “We are proud to be the first housebuilder aiming to roll-out hedgehog highways as standard across current locations and our new developments, to help one of the nation’s favourite animals roam freely at night between gardens.
“As part of our new sustainability steering group, protecting hedgehogs and the environment is at the forefront of what we want to achieve and we are delighted to join forces with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and take the lead in the housebuilding industry.
“Connectivity is vital to allow hedgehogs to find enough food, mates and shelter.
"There are many simple measures we can all take to help their numbers recover and ensuring easy access to our gardens is a very important step.”
Bovis Homes is developing the highways - holes that are created at ground level in fencing and other barriers - which are designed to allow access between gardens and wilder areas, and marked with a plaque. It is also building hedgehog homes in green spaces.
Hedgehogs walk more than a mile every night so need to move around freely between gardens. Literature will be provided for customers to inform them about the best way to help.
People can encourage hedgehogs by putting a hedgehog home in their garden or a log pile, which provides natural food and shelter for hedgehogs. Ponds are also suitable if there is an escape route in the form of a ramp or a sloping edge. Hedgehogs can swim well but cannot escape steep, slippery-sided ponds.
Fay Vass, chief executive of BHPS, said: “We are delighted that Bovis Homes is making this important pledge to help our dwindling population of hedgehogs. Creating holes for hedgehogs in fences and walls is a simple step but it could have a huge impact on the amount of habitat available for hedgehogs following the development of a site.
“There are many small actions we can all take to help hedgehogs in our gardens and green spaces, and joined together those small actions can make a huge difference to a species under threat.”
Wildlife author and ecologist Hugh Warwick added that the “built environment” could help hedgehogs recover, if developments were built with wildlife in mind, and that Bovis Homes’ hedgehog highways were a “crucial” contribution.