How do we feel about hedges? Assets or liabilities? No doubt it depends on where they are and whether we are responsible for them. If uncared for and overgrown, blocking footpaths and light they may be hazards or nuisances. A well kept hedge however can be decorative, beautiful with spring blossom, and serves many useful purposes, besides marking boundaries.
Recently the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has used laser scanning to map field boundary hedges in England and finds there are about 250,000 miles of them. The distance from earth to the moon! Even so, the Centre reports half of our hedgerows were lost between the 1940s and 1990s. This was partly due to building homes and agricultural developments; bigger machinery, bigger fields, for example.
Hedgerows for thousands of years have contained a huge range of plants and provided homes, food and corridors for birds, small mammals and insects. Besides this, they capture and store atmospheric carbon. So they not only provide biodiversity but are valuable in dealing with climate change.
It is good to know the Government has pledged to help farmers create or restore 30,000 miles of hedges by 2037 (a hedge fund?).
As mentioned earlier, it isn’t just the presence or new planting of hedges that is important. It is the species planted and the care of them that is also vital. They have to be managed. It used to be common for hedges to be ‘laid’, i.e. their stems half split and bent within the line of the hedge. This ensured the hedge did not grow too high and was kept thick. It is a skilful task, still being practised by some, with lovely results and happily for wild life.
The work we have been involved with in planting hedgerows at Dyke Farm ties in with the wider scheme of restoration. A local contribution to the national.
And of course, many of our gardens have hedges which can have some of the benefits of field hedges and contribute to the national. They too require upkeep but are attractive, mark boundaries and provide habitat for wildlife. One benefit, we can enjoy birdwatching from our own homes.
On Thursday 25th January the work party continued removing invasive birch saplings on Chantry Hill. We met again on 3rd February at 10.00am on a fine breezy morning at Hurston Warren SSSI, carrying out similar further heathland clearance work.
On 2nd March at 10.00am the work party will again be removing scrub at Chantry Hill. Do join us in this important task, where possible share transport plus a coffee at break time.
For information about this and our other activities, or on becoming a member, or offering advice, please get in touch with Chairman Mick Denness on 01903 745971, or see our website. www.storringtonconservation.org.uk/.
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