Cursty Mackin

Community Stories

Paving the way for a "Hedgehog Friendly Campus"

Cursty Mackin writes about what we could to make our homes and the university campus Hedgehog Friendly.

The primary school I went to as a child took part in the international programme of the Foundation for Environmental Education to become an Eco School, and always had a strong focus on empowering pupils to be the force for sustainable change through fun, action-orientated and socially responsible learning. A little of that stuck with me, and over the past 12 months I’ve really re-discovered how fun it can be to explore ways to live a bit more sustainably.

As a department, Business and Economic Development (BAED) are mindful of the impact we can have on the environment. It can be easy for everyone to ignore the environmental issues right now with everything else that’s going on, but we’ve found that raising awareness about the environment has actually been a really nice way to bring people together. We’ve been running departmental wildlife bingo challenges, encouraging staff each week to look out for different wildlife while enjoying their daily outdoor exercise.

Hedgehog Friendly Campus

When we began looking at other ways we could help the environment, we came across the Hedgehog Friendly Campus campaign. Given how privileged we are at RGU to have such fantastic green space across the campus, we thought this initiative would be great to do, to encourage both staff and students to be more aware of their local environment and think about how we can protect the wildlife that we have on our doorstep.

The population of Hedgehogs in the UK has declined severely over the last few decades. According to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, the urban population of hedgehogs have fallen by up to 30% and rural populations by at least 50% since the turn of the century.

Given the large sprawl of our beautiful green campus, it is very likely to be home to hedgehogs. To do our part, we have signed up to be a “Hedgehog Friendly Campus” and hope to obtain a bronze award from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. Our goal is to raise awareness of hedgehogs’ declining numbers, and create welcoming environments for them both on and off campus.

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With all of us spending more time at home, we wanted to kick things off by sharing things you can do in your own garden to help hedgehogs:

  • Create a log pile that will offer shelter and food
  • Build a Hedgehog Home: British Hedgehogs - Plans for Hedgehog Homes
  • Check areas carefully before mowing or strimming
  • Ensure netting is kept at a safe height
  • Check compost heaps before digging the fork in
  • Stop or reduce the amount of pesticides and poisons used
  • Cover drains or deep holes
  • Ensure there is an easy route out of ponds & pools
  • If you have a bonfire, make sure the pile is moved to a new site before lighting it.

Other “Green” Initiatives

The BAED team has always focused on ensuring that we reuse as much as possible. For instance, for over a year and a half the team has been using reusable cups when getting coffee from the food courts on campus.  

Personally, I’ve been trying to reduce how much disposable packaging I use. So, for the past year I’ve taken to baking my own bread (with very mixed results!) and trying my hand at small sewing projects using old fabric scraps. I’m by no means a wizz at either, but I enjoy the challenge!

The BAED department has also been trying to raise awareness of local resources and initiatives that aim to provide a more sustainable way forward. This has involved highlighting the great initiatives we have on campus (such as RGU Go Greens Vegbags, and the swap shop at Kaim Cottage), as well as the “zero waste” refill shops we have locally.

We are also raising awareness of recycling programmes for other traditionally “hard to recycle” products by compiling a list of stores that offer to recycle such items. To make this easier for staff to take advantage of, we actually have collection boxes for recycling a number of these items (such as crisp packets, bottle caps, stamps, stationary and empty beauty product containers) in the office, that are managed on a volunteer basis by the team.

If you would like to be involved in any of the initiatives please contact us on c.mackin@rgu.ac.uk.

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