FOLLOWING CONCERNS OVER a 50 percent decline in hedgerows since the Second World War, a 600-mile survey was conducted to check the health of the nation’s waterside hedges.
The survey, conducted by the Canal & River Trust and funded by £ 50,000 from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, identified many miles of the most common hedge species, hawthorn, as being in need of some TLC, along with other varieties such as ash, blackthorn, elder and hazel.
This year, training will be provided for staff and volunteers in hedge laying and Trust volunteers will be on the canal towpath planting new species and repairing historic hedgerows, which have been a canalside feature for over 200 years, to provide a greater variety of food and shelter for wildlife.
Stuart Moodie, CRT national ecologist, said: “Hedgerows are more than just important features in the landscape; they are lifelines for some of our most threatened wildlife. Many of our most at-risk species, from dormice and hedgehogs, to birds like blackbirds, thrushes and tree sparrows will all benefit from this project.
“Canals and their hedgerows act like nature’s highways and have the potential to allow safe routes to travel, collect food and find shelter to help them survive. Thanks to this fantastic support from the People’s Postcode Lottery, we’ll be able to run volunteer hedge-laying and planting days along our canals and begin to reinvigorate our hedgerows.”
It wasn’t all bad news – the survey also revealed good progress in recent years with over half the hedgerows across the country recorded as being in a good condition and 25 percent of hedges recorded were thought to be less than ten years old.
Hedgerows, like these on the Montgomery Canal, help endangered species like dormice