Free advice about how to apply the hedgerow lifecycle to healthy hedge management
Today, wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) launches a brand-new ‘Healthy Hedgerows’ app, aimed at farmers and land managers that want to make – or adjust – their hedgerow management plans to grow the healthiest of hedges.
Designed for farmers, landowners and land managers, this free app enables users to find out where hedges are within their natural lifecycle and offers instant feedback on how they can be best managed to ensure their continued health.
Trying to manage hedgerows according to their quite complex lifecycle, especially across a whole farm, is a challenge. This app strips away these complexities and simply asks just six easy questions to rapidly assess each hedge, making the task of creating a farm scale management plan much easier.
PTES hopes this will help farmers create a thriving network of healthy hedges that criss-cross the UK’s countryside, ensuring these iconic and hugely important habitats continue to benefit both those working on the land, but also the many species that call hedgerows home.
Megan Gimber, Key Habitats Project Officer at PTES, explains: “The quality and structure of hedgerows will deteriorate if they’re managed in the same way for long periods of time, and over time they will eventually be lost. The best way to prevent this is by managing according to their lifecycle, which may include more sensitive trimming, periods of non-intervention and, in time, rejuvenation.”
“Whatever condition a hedge is in, it can be brought back to good health. Our new app pinpoints where it is in its lifecycle and the best management options to adopt to get the most benefit for the farm and its precious wildlife.”
The app is part of the new ‘Close the Gap’ project, a year-long programme focused on achieving bigger, healthier, better-connected hedgerows. It 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 being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.
Megan continues: “Hedgerows have been a pivotal part of our countryside since the Bronze Age. Tragically we lost about half of our hedgerows last century through incentivised removal, which makes those that remain even more valuable; it is imperative we keep them healthy.”
“Despite historic losses, we still have 500,000km of hedgerow habitat, much of which is incredibly old and has survived hundreds or even thousands of years, thanks to an unbroken chain of care, management and periodic rejuvenation. These have survived through careful management from generation to generation, farmer to farmer, through the centuries. The privilege and responsibility of managing hedgerows now falls to us, as we write the next chapter of their history books.”
Unfortunately, many of our hedges have dropped 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 back to lifecycle management, ensuring a long future for our hedgerows and everything that depend on them.
Healthy hedgerows are a huge asset to farmers, as they can provide forage for pollinators, offer crop protection, act as a stock barrier and also as livestock shelters. They can also act as a source of income and have additional environmental benefits acting as carbon stores, flood control, reducing soil erosion but also air and water pollution levels.
Healthy hedgerows can also be wildlife havens; these prime habitats can be home to several endangered species such as hazel dormice, hedgehogs and bats, acting as a safe corridor across the countryside and as a food source. In fact, one study found over 2,000 species with just an 85m stretch of hedge!
Megan adds: “The importance of a healthy, connected hedgerow network cannot be overstated, especially when we are seeing so many worrying declines in our native wildlife due to habitat loss. Keeping hedges healthy maximises all 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 can’t download the app, more information is available online: hedgerowsurvey.ptes.org/healthy-hedgerows-survey.
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For interview requests, high res images or more information, please contact Adela Cragg:
T: 07532 685 614
Notes to Editors
Available for interview:
• Megan Gimber, Key Habitats Project Officer, PTES
• Jill Nelson, CEO, PTES
About Close the Gap
Close the Gap aims to champion hedgerows – the often-unsung heroes of the countryside – to ensure their future is a healthy one. The group hopes to see bigger, healthier and better-connected hedgerows across the countryside, through:
• encouraging surveying of hedgerows, via PTES’ new Healthy Hedges app
• providing grants (in England) for planting new hedgerows and hedgerow trees, and ‘gapping up’ existing hedgerows
• gathering and sharing knowledge to improve hedgerow management
• offering tree ties to help farmers mark trees in their hedgerows to grow into mature standard trees
• improving supplies of future hedgerow trees through local seed nurseries
• engaging the public with how important the UK’s hedgerow heritage is.
Close the Gap’s first ever National Hedgerow Awareness Week (29th May- 6th June) celebrated hedgerows, raising awareness of the vital role they play in biodiversity and climate change, showcasing what steps can be taken to increase and improve rural and urban hedgerows for the benefit wildlife and people. The project is funded by Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) through the Green Recovery Challenge Fund. It is being administered and managed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
- PTES, a UK conservation charity created in 1977, is ensuring a future for endangered species throughout the world. We protect some of our most threatened wildlife species and habitats, and provide practical conservation support through research, grant-aid, educational programmes, wildlife surveys, publications and public events.
- PTES’ current priority species and habitats include hazel dormice, hedgehogs, water voles, noble chafers, stag beetles, traditional orchards, native woodlands, wood pasture and parkland and hedgerows.
- PTES has Species Champions for three of its priority species: for hedgehogs The Rt Hon Chris Grayling, MP for Epsom & Ewell, for water voles The Rt Hon Hilary Benn, MP for Leeds Central and Chair of the Brexit Select Committee, and for dormice The Rt Hon Matt Hancock, MP for West Suffolk and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
- Visit www.ptes.org and follow PTES on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube & LinkedIn.