Vanishing hedgerows

Until about 20 years ago, farmers could obtain government grants to remove hedgerows from their land. In these more enlightened times, grants are now given to maintain them. Yet despite this, a survey has found that 16,000 miles of managed hedgerows disappeared between 1998 and 2007.

The English Hedgerow Trust on the importance of hedgerows:

Hedges are complex ecosystems, and are essential habitats for a wide range of flora and fauna; 21 out of 28 lowland mammal, 69 out of 91 bird and 23 out of 54 butterfly species breed in hedges. In countryside with little or no woodland they are essential for the survival of many bird species. They provide valuable sheltered routes along which wildlife can move more freely across the country between fragmented woodlands, function as screens against bad weather, provide cover for game, contain and shelter stock and crops, act as windbreaks and help control soil erosion.

The English Hedgerow Trust is dedicated to planting and regenerating hedgerows, and need donations and volunteers for their local conservation groups. The photograph shows a newly laid hedge in Home Farm, Bentworth, Hampshire

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