has a rich network of hedgerows and field boundaries ranging from the upland beech
hedges of Exmoor, the Blackdown and Quantock Hills in the west, to the lowland
ancient species-rich hedges throughout central Somerset, rising again to the stone
walls and hedges of the Mendip Hills.
Aims of the Group
promote good practice in hedge management
raise awareness and appreciation of the value of hedges to farming and non-farming
increase the conservation of the hedge network across the county
need for the Somerset Hedge Group
Somerset Hedge Group was formed in 1997 to co-ordinate the efforts of individuals
and organisations who are concerned about hedgerows. The Somerset Hedge Group
promotes responsible hedge management through demonstrations; competitions; advice
on training courses, management and grant aid; publicity and other initiatives.
factors such as agricultural mechanisation, urban expansion, rural development
and road building have affected hedgerows in the past 50 years. Between
1984 and 1990, it is estimated that the total length of British hedgerows declined
by 23% (DETR, 2000). Not all of this decline is due to direct removal, in
fact the main loss of hedgerow is now neglect and mismanagement.
has experienced less hedgerow loss than more eastern counties but it is important
to manage the existing hedge resource. Ancient and species-rich hedgerows
are a now a "priority habitat" in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK
BAP) to help address the loss. Grants are now available to encourage appropriate
Somerset Hedge Group uses a farmer-orientated approach to promote good practice
and listening to farmers is an important role for the Group. The Group also
acts as a forum for discussion where academics and practitioners alike are given
the opportunity to share findings and experience.