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Volume 603: debated on Thursday 17 December 2015

3. If the Church Commissioners will provide guidance to dioceses on ensuring that church property is hedgehog-friendly. (902796)

My hon. Friend has pricked all our consciences with his campaign for the protection of the hedgehog. The Church of England recognises that its churchyards are important not only as places of burial and quiet reflection, but for their characteristic habitats and as refuges for wildlife and plants. The conservation movement Caring for God’s Acre recognises the hedgehog as a flagship species in need of protection.

The Church of England is one of the largest landowners in the country, so do the dioceses across the country have ecology strategies for the protection of animals and wildlife throughout their churchyards?

The dioceses give proper weight to the conservation of natural heritage. I refer my hon. Friend to the ChurchCare website, which provides guidance on managing churchyards for wildlife, including by carrying out surveys and managing grassland. The aforementioned initiative, Caring for God’s Acre, encourages all of us as MPs to talk to our local churches about leaving some sections of their churchyards in a state that is conducive to the protection of species that are endangered, such as the hedgehog.