Early orchids among the bluebells, in April, 2017, near Tichney Wood, Sandon SG9
Photographs: Alex Carlton
How to hammer a hedge
Hedges? At the forefront of British conservation for decades, rooted in a thousand years of history. A rich resource for all life – you, the birds, bees and beetles – a shelter belt, wildlife home, soil and carbon retainer…Well worth a caring hand.
But throw away knowledge, expertise and sensitivity and you can have this instead… Not an autumn tidy and bulk up, but rather more a punishment we fear…
What did this hedge do wrong? What was it like before?
Hedgerows – The Tidy Solution
Do we want rural hedgerows to be vulnerable to unplanned manicuring? Like this one above, which, despite being in a landscape conservation area and an integral part of the field system, has been topped and hollowed out? Could we stomach fine hedgerows being dealt the final, tidy, solution of a herbicide “cure-all”?
The answer is probably no.
Do we have something to say about hedgerow alteration that includes the lopping and killing of live standard trees when no access problems exist and where the law, the Hedgerow Regulations 1997, seems to be treated as an inconvenience? Do we mind that countryside hedge maintenance has succumbed to the fancy for an upstairs view?
The answer for most thinking people will be yes, we hope.
The Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust says the Herts Environmental Records Centre has now acquired more than two million records on species, sites and habitats.
Tom Day, head of Living Landscapes, for Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, said: “The records that HERC hold are so valuable … and to reach two million records is a fantastic milestone. We wouldn’t have access to so much rich data without help from organisations such as the Herts Natural History Society Hertfordshire & Middlesex Branch of Butterfly Conservation and the public. We are extremely thankful for the time that individuals take to send us their carefully logged records.”
Recorders and ecologists, as well as the public, provide data for HERC, which is then made available to individuals and groups for use in nature conservation, development planning and research. Anyone with an interest in biodiversity can submit an enquiry about data.
Records can be sent directly to the centre or submitted online at Herts Natural History Society and iRecord – both sites have instructions on how to submit records.
This project is run by the Wildlife Trusts. The trusts say that small oases of wildlife-rich protected land, such as nature reserves, are becoming surrounded by otherwise inhospitable habitats for many plants and animals. The trusts are working to create Living Landscape areas that a large sites but which are part of a jigsaw. The aim is to have continuous corridors of suitable habitats, like river valleys and diverse hedgerows, which will act as wildlife highways allowing species to travel through areas disturbed by human influence as they disperse to find suitable homes. Land between the core areas and connecting habitats must also be made more accessible to wildlife, they trusts say. http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/living-landscape/our-vision
Seen a patch of wildlife friendly land, a beautiful building, an example of community heritage that could be saved from obliteration?
What the Heritage Lottery Fund says: “We offer a range of different grant programmes with grants from £3,000 to over £5m. Our landscapes and natural heritage are under ever-increasing pressure, habitats are being eroded, species lost and precious landscapes neglected but all are part of our unique heritage. Landscapes and wildlife help enrich our lives, provide a sense of place and inspire future generations, but never before have we become so disconnected from nature.” http://www.org.uk/looking-funding/what-we-fund
One HLF funded project– Restoring the Great Fen The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Peterborough. Given a £9,168,700 fund. 24/07/2007
About 1,229 hectares of habitat created, including reedbed, fen, open water, grazing marsh and lowland meadow. Key species have quickly colonising restored habitat.
Rare breeds conserved – British White, Red Lincoln and Belted Galloway.
Climate change mitigation. Practical solutions for water storage and movement, for habitat management and flood control.
The Bee Cause Friends of the Earth campaign. “The Bee Cause calls on the government to show real commitment to reversing bee decline. The urgent priorities include securing a permanent EU ban on bee-harming pesticides known as ‘neonicotinoids’ and delivering a strong National Pollinator Strategy.” https://www.foe.co.uk/page/bee-cause
The Great British Elm Experiment
Cuttings taken from mature trees from across the UK that appear to have resisted Dutch elm disease for over 60 years have been micro propagated. These native saplings are being distributed to thousands of schools, community groups, local authorities and private landowners who have signed up to take part in The Great British Elm Experiment. http://www.conservationfoundation.co.uk/elm#element_9