The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) wildlife charity has launched a brand new ‘Healthy Hedgerows’ app for farmers and land managers who want to develop or adjust their hedge management plans for growing hedges. the healthiest.
Designed for farmers, landowners and land managers, this free app lets users know where hedges are in their natural life cycle and provides instant feedback on how best to manage them to ensure their continued health. .
Trying to manage hedges according to their rather complex life cycle, especially across an entire farm, is a challenge. This app eliminates these complexities and simply asks six simple questions to quickly assess each hedge, making it much easier to create a farm-wide management plan.
PTES hopes this will help farmers create a thriving network of healthy hedges that crisscross the British countryside, ensuring that these iconic and extremely important habitats continue to benefit both those who work the land and the many species that inhabit the hedges. .
Megan Gimber, Key Habitats Project Manager at PTES, explains: “The quality and structure of hedges will deteriorate if they are managed the same way for long periods of time, and over time they will eventually disappear. The best way to avoid this is to manage according to their lifecycle, which can include more sensitive pruning, periods of no intervention, and ultimately rejuvenation.
“No matter what the condition of a hedge, it can be restored to good health. Our new app shows where it is in its life cycle and the best management options to adopt to get the most out of the farm and its valuable wildlife.
The app is part of the new “Close the Gap” project, a year-long program focused on making hedges bigger, healthier and better connected. This is a partnership project with The Tree Council, Peoples Trust for Endangered Species, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, Moor Trees, University of Reading, Hedgelink, the Royal Parks Guild and the Worshipful Company of Gardeners.
Close the Gap is funded by the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund is provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.
Megan continued, “Hurdles have been a staple of our campaign since the Bronze Age. We have tragically lost about half of our hedges in the last century to incentive removal, making the remaining ones even more valuable; keeping them healthy is imperative.
“Despite historical losses, we still have 500,000 km of hedge habitat, much of which is incredibly old and has survived hundreds if not thousands of years, thanks to an unbroken chain of care, management and rejuvenation. periodic. These have survived through careful management from generation to generation, farmer to farmer, through the centuries. The privilege and responsibility of managing the hedges now falls to us as we write the next chapter in their history books.
Unfortunately, many of our coverages have moved out of the traditional management cycle and their structures are slowly declining as a result. Healthy Hedgerows aims to provide free and accessible advice to ease the transition to life cycle management, ensuring a long future for our hedges and everything that depends on them.
Healthy hedges are a huge asset to farmers, as they can provide fodder for pollinators, provide crop protection, act as a barrier for livestock and as shelter for livestock. They can also act as a source of income and have additional environmental benefits, acting as carbon reservoirs, flood control, reducing soil erosion and levels of air and water pollution.
Healthy hedges are refuges for wildlife; these prime habitats may support several endangered species such as hazel dormice, hedgehogs and bats, acting as a safe corridor through the countryside and as a food source. One study found over 2,000 species in just 85m of hedge!
Megan adds, “The importance of a network of healthy, connected hedges cannot be overstated, especially when we are seeing so many worrying declines in our native wildlife due to habitat loss. Keeping hedges healthy maximizes all of these benefits and ensures they thrive for years to come.
To download the app for free, visit the Apple Store or Google Play and search for Healthy Hedgerows. For those who cannot download the app, more information is available online: hedgerowsurvey.ptes.org/healthy-hedgerows-survey.