(Featured image by: Shirley Daniel)
Dorset Wildlife Trust are calling for people to contact their MPs and ask them to support a new Environment Act.
They want their supporters to personally talk to their MPs about the environmental issues that are most important to them, so the government can develop an act that protects Dorset’s wildlife.
We believe we need a strong #EnvironmentAct to protect #Dorset’s wildlife & wild places. It needs: binding targets for nature’s recovery, a nature recovery network & a nature watchdog. Please show your support & contact your MP to spread the word. >> https://t.co/uvm3IX9OOS pic.twitter.com/C1ZE8JxdsH
— Dorset WildlifeTrust (@DorsetWildlife) January 24, 2019
Poole councillor John Rampton thinks a clear environmental policy is important, especially with Brexit around the corner.
He said: “At the moment we have strong environmental protection from the EU.
“I am very concerned about what will happen without that.”
One of his main worries is habitat fragmentation.
This is where human developments such as roads and housing break up what used to be one continuous habitat into smaller sections.
Although not eliminating the entire habitat, fragmenting can separate animals from important resources they depend on.
To reach them they have to travel across the sections, often through dangerous areas such as roads.
There is one species councillor Rampton is particularly worried about.
“Developments cutting up areas is one of the main reasons hedgehogs are in decline.
“It’s a really terrible situation.”
Shirley Daniel is a Christchurch based volunteer for the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, who has facilities at her home to take in and care for injured hedgehogs.
She also thinks that hedgehogs do not currently have enough protection when it comes to the fragmentation of their habitat.
“We have seen them come in because they’ve been injured by strimming which is indicative of people clearing building sites.
“We had a few families of hedgehogs coming in last year because their nest has been disturbed.
“At one building site, there was a mass of earth scooped up by a digger that an eagle-eyed builder noticed was moving.
“It turned out it was a mother and her babies.”
Although hedgehogs are currently partially protected, there is no specific legal protection for their habitat.
The presence of hedgehogs alone is not enough to prevent a planning application to start development, and there is no obligation to modify the site to protect hedgehogs.
“I have spoken to local builders, but it is business and it isn’t good.
“They use concrete bottoms to the fences so the hedgehogs can’t tunnel through gardens.”
In a report, Hedgehog Street, a campaign to save hedgehogs in the UK, found that hedgehog numbers are declining.
They give this advice on their website: “We suggest that for any new housing developments, hedgehog ‘highways’ are cut in the garden fences of new homes to improve connectivity throughout the development and help protect this endangered species.”
— Hedgehog Society (@hedgehogsociety) 18 January 2019
Although hedgehogs are one of Dorset’s most beloved species, there are many issues that Dorset Wildlife Trust think a new Environment Act could help.
They also want nature targets that politicians must report on and achieve and an independent nature watchdog so people can challenge government decisions that could potentially harm nature.
They said: “We would be delighted if anyone wanted to write to their MP telling them why Dorset’s wildlife and wild places are important and need protecting.”