Many of our hedgerows are ancient and have associated banks and ditches of great archaeological importance. They are the most important wildlife habitat over our farmland and can support an amazing diversity of plants and animal. They are especially important for farmland birds, butterflies, moths, bats and dormice. Hedgerow trees form networks of mature specimens across the landscape between woodland patches. They may facilitate the dispersal of populations of a range of species across the landscape, and their decline has impacts for species such as invertebrates including moths, birds and bats.
At least 47 species of conservation concern use hedgerows as their main habitat, and associated tussocky grass margins and patches of scrub provide food and shelter for many more species. Scrub on farmland can comprise scattered shrubs, young trees or dense thicket and is valuable for many bird and invertebrate species. It can buffer other valuable habitats from farming activities and, like trees, help retain soil, enhance infiltration and reduce run-off by ditches and ditches and rivers.
Neglect or poor management practices has resulted in the historic loss of hedgerows from the countryside, with many of the remaining hedges left in poor condition. The loss of hedgerows, which has been identified as a factor in the decline of many farmland plant and animal species, was quantified by Banbury Ornithological Society’s ‘Domesday Survey’. This recorded a 27% reduction in hedgerow length between the 1980s and 2000s, within the 1200km2 study area centred on Banbury.
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