To: Farmers and volunteers
Hedgerow Highways for Hedgehogs and Biodiversity
Plant hedges around every single field, and wherever there is space in town. Hedges and trees provide great habitat and sustain birds and wildlife who in turn give pleasure, and protect us from pests. They help maintain our soil. Biodiversity in the plant life promote biodiversity in fungus and insect defences which in turn help us protect our crops. Joined up hedges will allow wild animals to live and prosper, and extend their habitat with good results for us as crop consumers and as enjoyers of the natural world. We need places for insects to grow and feed our birds, for seeds and unusual flowers to bloom. A fallow yard around every field, under each hedge, will only benefit us long term. Planning for joined up hedges will provide long stretches of habitat for all kinds of animals, and have many other health benefits.
Why is this important?
We are losing our natural inheritance, though we hold the means in our hands to sustain it! We are biological and need to love our natural companions - whether plant or animal or insect. Parklands were planted to keep people sane and contented. Hedges and trees are a continuum that provide masses of habitat for all sorts of life. With life comes natural defences in biology against pests and fungi, our greatest enemies. We need to return nutrients and natural 'roughage' to the soil. Without constant additions to our 'good brown earth' we will have no topsoil to grow food in. Hedges provide leaves every year, to become soil, and their roots prevent washout of soil during rain. Trees and shrubs act as a natural water storage device and also maintain temperature. They may also have a good effect on climate as they suck up water and transpire it back out into the atmosphere. Monoculture, where one crop is grown, is bad for the kind of diversity that allows different plants and insects and animals to thrive. Pulling up hedge removes a natural protection to the crops and animals in the fields. Hedges keep growing and changing, and well laid hedges are effective animal barriers (for cows and sheep and horses). Hedgerows contain resources for arts and crafts, provide good air to breathe (make oxygen), act as a noise screen, and may contain any plants at all. Hawthorns were early used when hedges were first planted (enclosure). We need to revive the art of producing hedge seedlings cheaply and at home. Cuttings from all sorts of trees - nursery prices can be prohibitive.
We are all personally affected by this issue as the huge rainstorms we have wash literally 10s of tons of topsoil off of our fields. We must protect our food production. Hedgerows will protect us - as well as wild life. If you look under a tree on a frosty day you will see there is some warmth there, and less white. If you look on a hot day you will see there is more green under the tree. They do maintain temperature. Each hedge will provide shade, and a windbreak. The Woodland trust has done some research to show that putting 10% of your land to use by trees increases the yield by more than that.
I have a personal story about a hedge:
A mysterious bird filled lane
There used to be behind my house
A magical shady lane
Attracting bird of yellow hue
Oh I would go there again
All overhung with boughs of green
And trees which overhung a stream
The birds would flit from twig to branch
And sing to me and flee
We crossed the stream which babbled over the path
And walked along the central ridge
Where beasts had made a path depressed
Into the central grass
Huge hares and lovely deer would walk
At dawn or dusk I'd see them
Browsing in the verges when
They had not yet seen me
And round the corner up the hill
The roses thrived and hawthorns too
And yet more birds and pheasants bunched
Against the hedgerow, rabbits hunched
I knew where they all hid
But one day came the farmers up
With great machines and messed it up
All gone are hedges birds and song
By dismantling the lane.
How many birds have been displaced
Where now to propagate their race?
I never see the yellow birds now
Their food supply and shelter gone
The great birds came and ate them up
Why does this world do them such wrong?
O woe to man who does not see
That with them lies his destiny
If we eradicate their feasts
The land won't make us tasty treats
How dull the mind that won't accept
There's room for all, they must be kept
They only ever took our waste
And ate the insects that we hate
They gave us pleasure like a taste
Of all the glories of our God
Who gave us these all for our good.