Eco notes November 2023

November 2023

The beauty and value of hedgerows

Spring saw the hawthorn (or aptly named may) trees ablaze with blossom. This autumn the trees are bearing the fruits of all those flowers, with hedgerows abounding with red berries. Apart from their aesthetic value, the flowers and haws are wonderful for wildlife – pollinators, small mammals, birds. They also provide shelter from wind and rain along field boundaries for farm stock.

Other native tree and shrub species occur, such as guelder rose, spindle, hazel (with bountiful nuts this year), holly (already bearing a profusion of red berries) etc., all interwoven with a jumble of bramble and ivy, which also provide great food and shelter. These healthy hedgerows are in stark contrast to those so evident in many areas, where fields are divided by short, stubby, over-trimmed “neat” barriers that barely deserve the moniker hedgerow. Not only are they poor reservoirs for wildlife, but their carbon sequestration abilities are seriously compromised. In the current era of biodiversity crisis and climate change, the value of trees cannot be overstated and maintaining proper hedgerows is one way to assist in this challenge. All landowners, be they of small rural holdings or larger farms, can play their part by allowing their hedges to flourish. Urban dwellers, too, can plant native shrub species in their gardens.