Wildlife experts are worried about the sharp decline in the UK hedgehog population, as well as numbers of other small mammals and birds. In the 1950s, estimates put the number of hedgehogs at 30 million. Today, there are fewer than 1 million.

Part of the decline is linked to the reduction in garden hedges, which provide valuable shelter and food sources for hedgehogs.

Keep Wales Tidy has teamed up with the Woodland Trust on the Long Forest hedgerow project, backed by funding from the Heritage Lottery and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

The project tackles hedgerow decline across Wales by encouraging hedge planting, helping people to maintain hedges in a more wildlife-friendly way and surveying the location and condition of rural and urban hedgerows across Wales.

Long Forest manager, Gruff Jones, is encouraging people to rethink their attitude to garden hedges.

People assume that garden fences are a lower maintenance option than hedges, which is really not true. Very few hedges are flattened by high winds and they don’t need regular painting with preservatives either! We are encouraging householders to plant mixed native-species hedges, which provide shelter and food for wildlife and allow small mammals, such as hedgehogs, to pass from garden to garden and to get to other local green spaces.

Rachel Palmer, Long Forest officer, says

Everyone loves hedgehogs! In Radnorshire, where I live, there was a thriving population of hedgehogs until very recently.  I am sure that reversing the trend of removing garden hedges will help to slow that decline and will allow more people in towns to look out of the window at something green and attractive to a variety of wonderful wildlife.

If you are interested in planting a hedge in your garden, you can buy a Woodland Trust tree pack

Plannwch wrych, helpwch ddraenog!