is a good hedge for wildlife?
hedgerows are valuable for wildlife supporting a rich diversity of insects,
birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibian. In many lowland areas, hedges
are the most significant wildlife habitat remaining. The health
of hedgerows is crucial for the survival of many common as well as more
Native hedge plants such as blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel, dogwood and field
maple will support many more species than non-native plants such as garden
privet, leylandii and sycamore. In general terms, the more kinds
of tree and shrub a hedge contains, the more wildlife it can support due
to different flowering and fruiting times. The most valuable hedges
are those that combine a thick and bushy hedge with a sympathetically
managed bank, ditch or grassy margin.
shrub wildlife species supported:
mixed species native hedgerow will provide a supply of fruit, berries,
nuts, insects, slugs, snails and spiders for a range of mammals.
Hedgehog, common shrew, pygmy shrew, wood mouse and stoat will all
use hedges to feed, next or hibernate. Other species such
as dormouse and adder are more likely to be found in hedges that
link to other hedges and features such as scrub, woodland or ponds.
hedge features are favoured by certain species so a variety of hedge
shrubs and management is important. Amphibians (frogs, newts
and toads) favour hedges with ditches and dense ground cover.
The caterpillars of the Holly Blue butterfly, will only be found
in hedges containing holly, spindle or dogwood. Another butterfly,
the Brown Hairstreak butterfly will only lay its eggs on the young
shoots of blackthorn in a hedgerow.
use hedgerows to feed, find cover, establish breeding territories,
nest and raise chicks. Birds commonly associated with woodland
such as blue tit, great tit, wren, blackbird, robin and chaffinch
are more common in taller, wider hedges. Birds that favour scrubby
or open woodland, such as dunnock, yellowhammer and whitethroat
are more common in poor, gappy hedges. A taller hedge allows
nests to be built out of the reach of predators and will therefore
be more likely to fledge chicks successfully.
trees and uncut hedge tops provide important song posts allowing
birds to establish territories in the breeding season. It
is important to select sapling in hedgerows to grow on into the
next generation of trees for wildlife and for landscape value.
Oak and ash are valuable, long-lived hedgerow trees supporting a
wealth of wildlife species but other native trees can also be left.
Bats, songbirds and lichens, which favour undisturbed conditions,
can thrive on mature hedgerow trees.