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The importance of hedgerows

  • by JW

… to the landscape and its wildlife


This time of year, our Devon banks and hedgerows are starkly beautiful in the landscape:

Looking after our hedgerows – Vision Group for Sidmouth

The Sid Valley Biodiversity Group and Sidmouth Arboretum are keen to help look after them:

Sid Valley Hedgerows: plans to halt their decline – Vision Group for Sidmouth

The Sid Valley Hedgescape: full report – Vision Group for Sidmouth

A paper from the ‘What the Science Says’ website looks at hedgerows; here are a couple of paragraphs from that which suggests their decline is being halted, but we need to be looking after them properly:

The environmental value of hedgerows is now well recognised, but media reports often allude to their loss across the countryside, with the impression that this is both ongoing and also the cause of wildlife declines. This briefing sheet explores the importance of hedgerows to the landscape and its wildlife, earlier losses, and current trends in the UK, along with the impact of hedgerow management…

In August 2020, the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) launched a new national survey, the Great British Hedgerow Survey, which was featured in BBC Countryfile. The survey is aimed at landowners, wildlife groups and anyone who is interested to perform health checks on hedgerows and get advice on what type of management is required to help them thrive. These results will help gather data on the national status of British hedges.

Hedgerows are important, not just agriculturally for boundaries, crop management, water control and defence. They also have ecological importance, they support wildlife and insects, and can help with climate change and mitigate pollution. The key to a successful hedgerow is management and the plants found within. Hedgerows themselves may not be declining but managed ones are, replaced by remains that may be less useful agriculturally, yet still have biological significance. Hedgerows are a priority habitat and should be protected but they must be kept in good condition, repaired, and maintained.


.With more here on the survey:

The Great British Hedgerow Survey

Hedgerows – People’s Trust for Endangered Species

BBC Blogs – Springwatch – The Great British Hedgerow Survey

diagram: The hedgerow management cycle. Credit PTES