Why is hedgerow management important?

HawthornHawthorn berriesHedgerows provide key semi-natural habitat and resources for wildlife in agricultural landscapes. Hedgerow management can substantially alter the condition of hedges and their value as wildlife habitats. For example, farmland birds and mammals rely on berries as a food source over winter, but most hedgerow species only flower and fruit on wood that is at least two years old.

Photos: Berries on two years growth on a hawthorn hedge (left) and the same hedge after cutting in autumn (right)

 

Hedgerow management and rejuvenation experiments:

Blackthorn blossomThe Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) is testing the effects of cutting regimes (the frequency, timing and intensity of hedgerow trimming) and rejuvenation methods (traditional methods such as hedge-laying and coppicing and also newer alternatives) using large-scale field experiments at 11 sites across lowland England. We are measuring a wide range of responses to our management and rejuvenation treatments, including provison of floral and berry resources, abundance and diversity of pollinating invertebrates, butterflies and moths, regrowth and structure of hedgerows and the cost of rejuvenation methods. Our results are being used to inform hedgerow management options within agri-environment schemes in England.

Photos: blackthorn blossom (above), coppicing (below left), traditional hedge-laying (centre), hedge cutting with a flail (right) at Wimpole Hall and Waddesdon Estates.


Coppicing, circular saw, wildlife hedgingHedge-layingHedgerow cutting with a flail

We have published eight papers and two book/ conference proceedings chapters from the results of this project, see PI webpage for publication details.

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  • Defra