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Rural hedgehogs in sharp decline, survey shows
Pesticides, increased field sizes and intensive farming are all associated with the fall in rural hedgehog numbers.

Conservationists to work more widely with farmers 

At least half of all native hedgehogs have been lost from the British countryside in the last 20 years, according to new figures.

The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs Report 2018 is published jointly by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES).

It found that hedgehogs in rural areas are in sharp decline, with their numbers decreasing by around 50 per cent since the year 2000.

It is thought that pesticides, increased field sizes and intensive farming are all associated with the fall in numbers of hedgehogs in rural areas. The BHPS and the PTES are now planning to engage with the farming community to help conserve this iconic creature.

“Farmers play a vital role in producing food, but they’re also well placed to help protect, maintain and enhance our countryside,” explains Emily Wilson, hedgehog officer for Hedgehog Street, a public action campaign run by BHPS and PTES.

“The Government recently reiterated plans to reform the EU Common Agricultural Policy to reward landowners for delivering environmental benefits. Many farmers already have a sustainable approach to agriculture, and we think there’s a great opportunity to work more widely with them to stem the alarming decline of our country hedgehogs.”

The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs Report also highlights a more positive outlook for hedgehogs in urban areas. Whilst the species has fallen by a third in towns and cities since 2000, the rate of decline is slowing.

The survey also found that hedgehogs are not disappearing from urban green areas are fast as they were 15 years ago, and could even be returning. Interestingly, in some areas where hedgehogs are found, the numbers appear to be growing.

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UK a step closer to ivory ban

News Story 1
 A UK ban on ivory sales is one step closer to coming into force, as the government has introduced the Ivory Bill to parliament. The ban covers items of all ages, rather than just ivory carved after 1947. Anyone breaching the ban will face an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

Conservationists have welcomed the bill, which comes less than six weeks after the government published the results of a consultation on this issue. Around 55 African elephants are now slaughtered for their ivory every day and the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth £17 billion a year.  

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News Shorts
Strategic alliance to support development of agri-food sector

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast have formed a new strategic alliance that will see both institutions form a research and education partnership.

Under the agreement, the organisations will pool their resources and expertise to support the development of the agri-food sector. It will work across three core themes: enabling innovation, facilitating new ways of working and partnerships.