Criss-crossing the countryside, hedgerows can be seen dividing up our landscapes, but the condition of these important habitats is declining through over-management and neglect. To address this, the Trust training volunteers to survey, restore and protect Surrey's precious hedgerow networks.
Why are hedgerows important?
With nectar-rich blossom in the spring, insects buzzing in the dense thickets in summer and red berries in autumn; hedgerows have provided wildlife with a rich larder and a place to shelter for centuries.
However, since WWII, around half of the UK’s hedgerows have disappeared. Whilst hedgerow loss has now stabilised, their condition is showing a worrying decline.
Over 130 Species of Principle Importance for Nature Conservation are associated with hedgerow habitats. These include the rare pearl-bordered fritillary, protected species such as the dormouse, as well as birds such as whitethroat and yellow hammer.
Hedgerows and our environment
Hedgerows play an integral part in preventing soil loss from wind and water erosion, reducing flooding and local air pollution, providing shelter, and acting as a buffer strip to protect our watercourses from agricultural pollution.
Species that rely on hedges
Frequent cutting and poor management of hedgerows is causing a decline in hedge condition. Hedgerow loss and degradation has been identified as a contributory factor in the decline of many species, especially those associated with farmland. 130 species of conservation concern are known to rely on them!
Species such as the rare black and brown hairstreaks, purple emperor and pearl-bordered fritillary, use hedgerow flowers for nectar or to lay their eggs in the shelter of the plants.
Animals like the European-protected hazel dormouse, bank vole, harvest mouse and hedgehog nest and feed in hedgerows. Bats, such as the greater horseshoe and Natterer’s bats, use them as green ‘commuter routes’ for foraging and roosting.
Woodland and farmland birds such as blue tit, great tit, yellowhammer and whitethroat can be found along hedges.
How you can help
Help us carry out surveys, hedge laying and traditional management techniques that are vital for many wildlife species to thrive.
We want a network of ‘Hedgerow Hero’ citizen scientists who are trained in a standardised methodology to survey hedges in their local community and take an active role in their management.
This will allow us to determine the status of Surrey’s hedges, identify the types of pressures they are facing and take action for hedges that are missing or in decline.
We will train Hedgerow Heroes to:
Learn how to restore, monitor and protect your local hedgerows.
Survey hedgerows to help identify problems and build a county-wide picture of hedge condition.
- We’ll teach you hedgerow management techniques like hedge-laying to rejuvenate existing hedges and how to plant new native hedges.
- Help maintain habitat connectivity by planting up gaps in hedges identified by our survey efforts.
- Share history and folklore about our relationship with hedgerows.
Survey your local hedge
Take a Hedgerow Hike and survey your local hedgerow using your smartphone