Hedgerows

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

Watchtree originally had almost 4km of Hedgerows planted consisting predominantly of Hawthorn plus occasional Dog Rose, Blackthorn and Holly with the aim of attracting target bird species associated with hedgerows including Linnet, Bullfinch and Yellowhammer as they became established.

A BIFFA Award in 2011 enabled Watchtree Nature Reserve to plant a further 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, these new hedgerows now act as corridors for wildlife, travelling to and from, the reserve.

The cover now provided by the hedgerows, rough grass and associated soil banks (kests) also provide cover and food for small mammals, Grey Partridge and Brown Hares.

Our volunteers now undertake rotational hedge laying, a management skill which achieves the formation of livestock proof barriers, rejuvenation of the hedges by encouraging them to put on new growth and helping to improve their overall structure and strength; affording greater weather protection for wildlife and provision of aesthetically pleasing screens to fields.