Hedgerows crisscross over our countryside providing vital habitat for our wildlife as well as acting as corridors for species dispersal.
The hedgerows of the UK are invaluable to our wildlife, providing home to many of our native animals and corridors to travel for others. Both of these are important to the maintenance of many species.
Hedgerows are so teeming with life that one study counted 2070 species in one 85 metre stretch! Even this was thought to be an underestimate, as many taxonomic groups were not thoroughly sampled.
Many of the species and habitats we work with depend on hedges.
Hedgerows play an important role for dormice. In spring blackthorn and hawthorn flowers are used as food, then in early summer ash keys, honeysuckle flowers and insects such as aphids are eaten. Later in the year they rely on blackberries and hazelnuts to build fat reserves for the coming winter. The diversity of hedgerow plants is therefore vital in supporting dormice.
There has been a 64% decline of dormouse occurrence in hedgerows since the late 1970s.
Hedgerows are also used as dispersal corridors and are an important link between copses that are too small to support a viable dormouse population on their own. Crucially they also support breeding populations independent of other habitats. Even small gaps in a hedgerow can be an obstacle to dormouse dispersal.
As the name suggests hedgehogs are often found near hedgerows. They provide ideal locations for nest sites, a good supply of invertebrates on which they feed, protection from predators and important movement corridors. The pastures used by farmers to raise cattle, sheep or horses are important foraging areas for hedgehogs.