A Perth developer has committed to becoming one of the first builders in Scotland to provide “hedgehog highways”.
A&J Stephen will introduce a network of interconnected nature-friendly gardens aimed at saving the mammals after their population halved over the last two decades.
The highways allow hedgehogs to roam freely between gardens through small holes at ground level. The creatures can travel over a mile every night in search of food and shelter.
The developers agreed to trial the initiative at the new Mansfiled Park project in Scone after being approached by local resident Elaine Bannerman.
Elaine said: “I’m delighted that A&J Stephen are taking steps to protect wildlife in their new development.
“The hedgehog highway is a fantastic idea, making sure they can roam freely from garden to garden.
“They cover a surprising amount of ground when they are out and about at night.
“Hedgehogs have been regular visitors to our garden for many years and we have prepared a wee home for them in the back garden. So it is good to know that they won’t be reined-in by fences when the new development is complete.”
Hedgehog highways came to the fore last year following a petition by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS), which has so far been signed by nearly 700,000 people.
A&J Stephen announced it had signed up to the wildlife preservation initiative during Hedgehog Awareness Week and will begin work on the 42 home development in a matter of weeks with residents moving in early 2021.
John Stephen, managing director, said: “We are delighted to be introducing hedgehog highways within our developments, a move we plan to roll-out across all developments in the months and years ahead.
“As housebuilders, we have an obligation to protect the environment and protecting declining species is very much part of that.
“Connectivity is vital to allow hedgehogs to find enough food, mates and shelter and creating a network of interconnected nature-friendly gardens is a simple step which we can take to help their numbers recover.”
Kay Vass of British Hedgehog Preservation Society said: “We are thrilled to hear A&J Stephen has made this commitment to creating hedgehog highways.
“Access to suitable habitat is vital for hedgehogs and offering information to residents will hopefully help them to understand what else they can do to help hedgehogs travelling through their gardens.”