Today’s national news: March 1st

Rory Hill brings us today’s national stories from across the UK.

 

The Hedgehog Problem Spikes

The furry garden friend of every UK home continues to be under threat.

At least half the population of our native hedgehogs have been lost from the British countryside over the last two decades, warn two wildlife charities in a report issued today.

The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2018, published jointly by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), is the only comprehensive review of the status of Britain’s hedgehogs.

Hedgehog Sightings Continue to Fall in the Countryside. Image : Mental Floss

Hedgehog Sightings Continue to Fall in the Countryside. Image : Mental Floss

A spokesperson for BHPS-Emily Wilson-highlighted many reasons why Hedgehog’s are in difficulty:

“The intensification of agriculture through the loss of hedgerows and permanent grasslands, increased field sizes, and the use of pesticides which reduce the amount of prey available, are all associated with the plunge in numbers of hedgehogs in rural areas.”

With approximately 70% of land in the UK managed by farmers, Wilson went on to suggests that “farmers play a vital role” in helping protect and maintain Hedgehogs habitat.

However the report was not all doom-and-gloom for Sonic and suggested some positives for urban furze-pig’s.

Although the species has declined by a third in urban areas since 2000, the rate of decline appears to be slowing. Sightings have increased by 20% since 2014 in an annual survey of 600 urban gardens by PTES.

It has been suggested that this is because of the more than 4,500 hedgehog highways creations since 2015. The highways involve cutting holes in the bottom of fences, linking over 9,000 gardens, as part of the Hedgehog Street project and is extremely beneficial to an array of furze-pig.

Hedgehog Highways Prevent Segregation in Urban Habitats. Image : Animal Facts Encyclopedia

The State of Britain’s Hedgehog Report also illustrated the importance of ‘Hedgehog Champions’.

PTES and BHPS launched Hedgehog Street in 2011 to inspire the British public to help hedgehogs and other wildlife that depend on their gardens and, so far, over 47,000 volunteers or Hedgehog Champions have signed up to help.

Emily Wilson continued by pinpointing the importance of volunteers stating:

“Urban and suburban areas are becoming increasingly important for hedgehogs, so we need more people in those locations to sign up as Hedgehog Champions.”

For more on how to become a Hedgehog Champion and help your furry garden neighbour, visit www.hedgehogstreet.org

Air pollution “vacuum cleaner” unveiled in Amsterdam

Dutch inventors have unveiled a large outside air vacuum capable of filtering large quantities of pollutants from the atmosphere.

The purifier, created by tech start–up group Envinity, can clean about 800,000 cubic metres of air per hour, according to its inventors.

“A large column of air will pass through the filter and come out clear,” Henk Boersen, the group’s spokesman said in an interview with the BBC.

The filter had been showcased at an exhibition in Amsterdam.

“It’s a large industrial filter about 8m [26ft 2in] long, made of steel… placed basically on top of buildings and it works like a big vacuum cleaner,” Mr Boersen explained.

The company said the vacuum cleaner was able to suck in air from a 300m radius and up to 7km (4.3 miles) from above and filter out 100% of fine particles and 95% of ultra-fine particles. Fine particles are caused by emissions from burning wood and other fuels as well as industrial combustion. Ultra-fine particles are released by emissions from vehicles as well as aeroplanes.

“Fine particles and ultra-fine particles are known to be extremely harmful to public health,” Envinity Group said on its website.

About 90% of EU residents are said to be exposed to high levels of such particles.

Last month, an air-purifying system designed by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde was installed in Beijing.

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Smog Free Tower, which uses patented ozone-free ion technology, can clean up to 30,000 cubic metres of air an hour and collect more than 75% of the harmful particles, according to Studio Roosegaarde.

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