Hedgerows are new hous­ing for scores of species

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

THE Wildlife Trust has vol­un­teers young and old.

Meet­ing them gives you a buzz be­cause of their love of the wildlife in their own patch.

Over the week­end I met The First Ast­ley Scouts and Pe­ga­sus Ex­plorer Scouts, who were brav­ing the wind and rain at our new Cu­tacre na­ture re­serve in Tyldes­ley, on the Sal­ford/Wi­gan border.

They were plant­ing hawthorn and hazel to cre­ate hedgerows.

Hedgerows are a true fea­ture of our coun­try­side, criss­cross­ing large ar­eas.

They are bushes with oc­ca­sional trees ris­ing up.

Used as bar­ri­ers to pre­vent live­stock es­cap­ing into neigh­bour­ing fields and roads, they were also used as bound­aries be­tween parishes.

Two thirds of Eng­land has been hedged for a thou­sand years, making hedgerows a win­dow into our past.

They range in date from Me­dieval bound­aries to the 19th cen­tury En­clo­sures Act when many fields were di­vided into pock­ets.

Af­ter the Sec­ond World War in­ten­sive farming and new hous­ing saw the de­struc­tion of many hedgerows and we lost nearly a quar­ter in 50 years.

Many that are left are in poor con­di­tion.

So why am I making such a fuss?

Hedgerows are vi­tal for wildlife. We have a Bio­di­ver­sity Ac­tion Plan in the UK which aims to pro­tect and en­cour­age species that are in dan­ger – more than 100 of th­ese species are as­so­ci­ated with hedgerows.

Hedgerows are made up of won­der­ful shrubs like hawthorn and buck­thorn, with hazel, ash and oak ris­ing out of the top.

Trav­eller’s joy and hon­ey­suckle can weave their scented way into the bushes and red cam­pion adds colour through­out spring and sum­mer.

In­sects buzz around in warmer sea­sons, which at­tracts farm­land birds like blue tit, great tit, yel­lowham­mer, whitethroat and thrush. Berries pro­vide win­ter food for lots of birds.

Many birds nest in hedgerows, in­clud­ing our black­bird, and birds of prey use them to look out for the mice and voles that live among the shrub­bery.

Brown hares do not live in bur­rows, they have their young in shal­low de­pres­sions or a flat­tened nest of grass.

This makes hedgerows per­fect shel­ter.

Other in­hab­i­tants in­clude bank vole, har­vest mouse and the hedge­hog. The de­struc­tion of hedgerows is one of the rea­sons why hedge­hog num­bers have fallen so dra­mat­i­cally in Eng­land.

Hedgerows are green com­muter routes for for­ag­ing and roost­ing. You can ex­pect to see nat­terer’s bats and owls scout­ing along the edges.

The Wildlife Trust speaks to farm­ers and land own­ers about cre­at­ing new hedgerows. On our na­ture re­serves vol­un­teers en­sure we are lead­ing the way in the re-in­tro­duc­tion of this im­por­tant habi­tat.

To be­come a mem­ber of the trust, go to the web­site­lanc­swt.org.uk or call 01772 324129.

For more about Cheshire Wildlife Trust, call 01948 820728 or visit cheshirewil­dlife trust.org.uk.

●● Scouts get to work on a new hedgerow

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