The humble hedgehog has been voted by the public as England and Wales' number one Icon of the Environment, as part of an Environment Agency survey.
From a field strewn with more than 70 nominations, the hedgehog emerged victorious ahead of the otter, red squirrel and oak tree, with bluebell woods rounding out the top five. 'As an iconic symbol of the environment the hedgehog is very appropriate - it can appear to be hazardous and impregnable, but in reality it's vulnerable and fragile,' said Environment Agency director of corporate affairs Helen McCallum. 'Another common theme was the public's adherence to positive living icons from the natural environment rather than human influences. Nominations such as the Thames Barrier (60), footpaths (19) and bicycle (18) appeared well down the list. In fact the only man-made nomination to make the top 10 was hedgerows, which in themselves are made up of living species.'Icons of the Environment, launched as part of the Agency's 10th anniversary celebrations, started off with just 12 nominations suggested by the Environment Agency's 13,000 staff - including species, habitats, places and man-made icons. Visitors to ICONS Online quickly added many more. England and Wales' top 10 iconic species are the: Hedgehog (1); otter (2); red squirrel (3); oak tree (4); robin (6); brown trout (7); red kite (8); water vole (10); barn owl (11); and sparrow (12).