Factors causing hedgerow loss or decline
Flailing and cutting hedgerows requires careful timing and method to provide a diverse hedgerow habitat and good hedgerow structure.
Hedgelink and the Hedgerow Survey Handbook give information on what constitutes favourable condition. In August 2019 PTES launched its ‘Great British Hedgerow Survey’ which promotes hedgerow surveys and provides management advice.
Hedgerow Regulation - Legal protection.
Under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997, it is against the law to remove or destroy hedgerows that meet criteria that relate to the value of the hedgerows from an archaeological, historical, landscape or wildlife perspective, without permission from the local planning authority.
Hedgerow Regulations protect ‘important’ hedgerows. These include ancient hedgerows, those from pre-parliamentary enclosure field systems, and those that support scheduled wildlife.
Important hedgerows for the regulations also include hedgerows with 4 to 7 woody species in a 30 metre length depending on the other features present. These are:
4 associated features require just 4 woody species in a 30m stretch of hedgerow whereas 3 features require 6 woody species. If there are no associated features then 7 woody species are required.
Hedgerows with ≥ 4 woody species running alongside a footpath with ≥ 2 features are also ‘important’ and the regulations apply.
From 1945, there was a drastic loss of hedgerows through removal across the country, including Barnsley.
By 1998 this decline in the length of hedgerows had been halted
Neglect and a lack of positive management continue to have a major impact on hedgerow sustainability.
Hedgerow BAP favourable condition
Size: ≥1m high; ≥1.5m wide; 3m2 xsection
Gaps: ≤ 10% gaps; no gaps ≥5m wide;
base of hedge canopy ≤0.5m above ground
≥Undisturbed ground /≥1m herbaceous cover alongside hedge
≤ 20% cover of nettles, cleavers and docks within 2m band alongside hedge
≤ 10% non-native woody species / ≤ 10% non-native herbaceous species