Like other habitats created and ultimately destroyed by human influences, hedgerows have declined significantly. Between 1945 (Second world War again!) and 1993 it is estimated that over half of our hedgerows have been either destroyed or become derelict. The importance of hedgerows, particularly where there is little or no woodland cannot be over emphasised; 21 out of 28 lowland mammal, 69 out of 91 bird and 23 out of 54 butterfly species breed in hedges (The Hedgerow Trust, 2006). Hedgerows are also considered important biodiversity corridors, linking habitats together. As well as their wildlife conservation value, hedgerows help to protect soils and crops and thus the wider countryside benefits.
Almost 4km of Hedgerows have been created at Watchtree. Consisting predominantly of Hawthorn and occasional Dog Rose, Blackthorn and Holly, hedgerows cover many of the burial pits in the central part of the reserve. Target bird species associated with hedgerows including Linnet, Bullfinch and Yellowhammer should also benefit in future years once the hedgerows become established.
BIFFAWARD 2011. Watchtree Nature Reserve received over £23,000 for the planting of almost 2km of additional species-rich hedgerow. Complete with fences the new hedgerows have allowed us to completely cover the southern boundary of the reserve with a dedicated habitat....much better than the previous broken fence! We hope the new hedgerows will act as corridoors for wildlife, travelling to and from, the reserve. Target species include the Yellowhammer which breeds in established hedgerows literaly yards from our reserve! The cover provided by the hedgerows, rough grass and associated soil banks (kests) should also provide cover and food for small mammals, Grey Partridge and Brown Hares.