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A Little Rough Guide around the Hedges


Englands hedgerows are an under-valued treasure trove of tradition, beauty and quirkiness.

To celebrate their richness, and to remind people of the importance of protecting Englands hedgerows for future generations, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has produced a new colour pocket guideA little rough guide around the hedges is packed with useful information including a handy pull-out centrespread with easy to use colour photographs that identify many of the plants that are common in English hedgerows.

CPRE hopes it will encourage people to get out and about in their countryside during the late summer and early autumn.Bill Bryson, CPRE President, says: For well over a thousand years hedgerows have been a defining attribute of rural England, the stitching that holds the fabric of the countryside together. The oldest known surviving hedgerow in England is Judiths Hedge in Cambridgeshire, which is over 900 years old;

Over 125 of our most threatened wildlife species are associated with hedges. More than 80% of farmland birds rely on hedges for protection and food, and many threatened mammals feed on their fruits and seeds;
Hawthorn the commonest hedgerow shrub gave us the original wedding confetti, with the white flowers being showered on newly-weds at traditional spring weddings.

Emma Marrington, CPREs Rural Policy Campaigner, says: Hedgerows play an important role in maintaining the diversity of the countryside and make a major contribution to the character and beauty of the landscape.Now is the perfect time of year to get out into the countryside and see how many different species you can spot in your local hedgerows. These boundaries have been a part of the landscape for thousands of years and the more species you can spot, the older the hedgerow is likely to be.

Hedgerows are the vital stitching in the patchwork quilt of the English landscape. They offer a wide range of benefits, from preventing soil erosion, to providing a safe haven and food resource for endangered British species such as the hazel dormouse. Other threatened species rely on the natural corridors created by hedgerows to survive, including most native bat species and the great-crested newt, emphasising the importance of maintaining a network of hedgerows as part of the wider landscape.In towns and cities, hedgerows aid drainage, reduce the amount of air pollution and offer a habitat for urban wildlife. They also hugely improve the quality of built-up areas. Hedges have in many cases given their name to the land they enclose, for example Haigh, Hayes, Hawes and Haughley.

Emma Marrington concluded: Hedgerows are one of the most iconic features of the English landscape but although some are hundreds of years old, they may not be around in centuries to come. Its important we do everything we can to halt and reverse their loss and degradation, including improving their management and laws that protect them to ensure their long-term survival.

Wed love people to use our new hedgerow guide to learn about their local hedgerows and help protect hedgerows for future generations to enjoy.


More Hedgerow Facts
The worlds longest (530m, 1/3 mile) and tallest (30m, 100ft) hedge is the Meikleour Beech Hedge(s) in Scotland. It is trimmed every ten years and was planted in 1745. It is said that the hedge grows towards the heavens because those who planted it perished at the Battle of Culloden.
By far the most common hedge shrub is the hawthorn, possibly due to the Celtic tradition of planting it around sacred places. Practically, hawthorn was a good hedge choice because it produces a hard-wearing wood, ideal for making tool handles and bowls as well as for firewood. The thorns also act as a good deterrent to straying cows and sheep.
In addition to its role in weddings, the hawthorn also had many medicinal uses, especially for heart conditions. Its name comes from the Old English `haeg, meaning hedge.
Two-thirds of England has had a continuously hedged landscape for a thousand years or more. In Devon, for example, it is thought that over a quarter of hedges are more than 800 years old older than many parish churches. Some are underlaid by banks built in Bronze Age times 4,000 years ago. The Saxon word for hedge is Haga.
The overall length of Englands managed hedgerows fell by 26,000 km (6 per cent) between 1998 and 2007.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) fights for a better future for the English countryside. We work locally and nationally to protect, shape and enhance a beautiful, thriving countryside for everyone to value and enjoy. Our 57,000 members are united in their love for Englands landscapes and rural communities, and stand up for the countryside, so it can continue to sustain, enchant and inspire future generations. Founded in 1926, President: Bill Bryson, Patron: Her Majesty The Queen.


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