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The hedgerows of Herefordshire

Posted: Wednesday 4th January 2017 by HerefordshireHabitatExplorer

Our new blog will be looking into some of Herefordshire's varied habitats and the wildlife that calls them home...

The Hedgerow

About

Hedgerows are an important feature of our landscape for many reasons. They provide shelter and protection in otherwise open areas for many small mammals they provide nesting sites for birds and the berries and nuts they produce in autumn are important food for all sorts of creatures as winter closes in.

Herefordshire’s countryside is rich in ancient and species-rich hedgerows. An ancient hedgerow is one which has been in existence since before the Enclosure Acts of the 18th and early 19th centuries while a species-rich hedgerow is one in which five or more native woody species can be found in a 30 metre length.

Hedgerows also act as wildlife corridors for many species. This means that they are used by animals to travel between habitats to find food, shelter, a territory or a mate. For example, a woodland species such as the dormouse, who does not venture out into open spaces, may travel from one pocket of woodland to another along a hedge.

Through the centuries, hedgerows have been planted (or left standing when a woodland was cleared) to keep in livestock, demarcate a boundary, provide wood for hurdles, tools or fuel, cut for stock fodder and provide shelter from the elements for grazing sheep, cattle or horses.

Wildlife to spot

Too many to mention! Hedgerows are a vital habitat for many species especially butterflies and moths, farmland birds, bats and dormice. Over 600 plant species, 1,500 insects, 65 birds and 20 mammals have been recorded in hedgerows in the UK!

Where to find them

Despite many miles of hedgerow being lost across the UK since the middle of the last century, Herefordshire still has many miles criss-crossing the countryside. Parts of the county that have high concentrations of hedgerows are (by this virtue) also typically areas containing small field patterns and are commonly rich in wildlife. The Golden Valley and the Woolhope Dome are good examples of where you can find this kind of landscape in Herefordshire. However, you should spot some wonderful examples on any country walk, some of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves contain great examples – see Common Hill, Lugg Meadow, the Parks and the Sturts

Love your hedgerow

Encourage wildlife to your garden by planting a hedgerow. Native species to plant include hawthorn, field maple, blackthorn (if you don’t mind spikes!), crap apple, hazel, dog rose and spindle . 

A traditionally laid hedgerow is wonderful for wildlife as well as beautiful. Winter is the time to lay hedges before they begin to grow and the birds begin to nest. Click here to see our latest hedge laying workshops.

For younger nature-lovers, create your own model hedge as part of Wildlife Watch’s Brambly Hedge competition. Find details at www.wildlifewatch.org.uk/make-your-own-brambly-hedge-row


*Remember not to cut back or prune hedges between 31st March to 31st August when birds are nesting.
 

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