CLM Spring issue 2018 - Page 26



Habitat management news
europaeus, Buckthorn Rhamnus
cathartica and Wayfaring Tree
Viburnum lantana.
As Hawthorn was the dominant
species across all five trial sites and
is the dominant hedgerow species
across England, it was the focus of
assessments for regrowth and berry
provision following rejuvenation in
the trials.
In November 2010, the hedgerowrejuvenation treatments were applied
at five sites to 24m-long contiguous
hedgerow plots in a randomisedblock experiment:
Traditional hedge-laying The
Midlands-style hedge-laying involves
the cutting and removal of about
half of the hedge’s woody volume.
Main stems were partially severed
at the base, leaving a small section
of living cambium intact, laid over
at approximately 35°, and woven
into a dense, woody, linear feature.
Remaining branches were then laid
to one side of the hedge, leaving the
other side bare with no branches.
Frequent stakes and top binders
were used to secure the stems and
branches in place.
Conservation hedging This is
a quicker alternative to traditional
hedge-laying. Stems were cut at
the base (as above) and laid over.
Remaining stems and branches were
laid along the line of the hedge,
rather than to one side. Fewer
branches were removed, stakes were
used sparingly, and binders omitted.
Wildlife hedging A chainsaw
was used to make rough basal cuts
on every stem, and the hedge was
pushed over along its length with a
360 digger bucket. No brash (woody
stems and branches) was removed,
and some stems were entirely severed
when the hedge was pushed over.
Circular saw A tractor-mounted
circular saw was used to cut the
sides and top of the hedge, thereby
reshaping it into a tall, box-like
structure. Future management would
consist of similar periodic reshaping
every 8–10 years.
Coppicing Hedge stems were
cut close to ground level with a
chainsaw. Almost the entire volume
of the hedge was removed.
Control No rejuvenation applied.
Each rejuvenation method was
replicated two or three times at each
of ve sites (a total of 12 replicates).
Contractors who specialised in each
form of rejuvenation were employed
to apply the treatments, to ensure
that they realistically resemble
hedgerow rejuvenation in the wider
countryside. Wildlife hedging and
circular-saw reshaping could not be
applied at Crowmarsh Battle, as the
hedge was not mature enough.
A total of seven variables was
measured across the five plots. These
were:
1. Contract cost for each
rejuvenation method used.
2. Rates of regrowth following
rejuvenation.
3. Regrowth from basal cut stools.
4. Regrowth in the hedgerow canopy.
5. Dead-foliage cover.
6. Hedgerow structure.
7. Berry provision for overwintering
wildlife.
The methodology and results for
each of the above assessments are
discussed in relation to the impacts
on wildlife and are illustrated in detail
in the paper.
This study is the first quantitative
test of new approaches to hedgerejuvenation management. The use
of a large-scale manipulative field
experiment over three years provides
robust evidence for the relative
cost of five rejuvenation methods
and their effects on the value of
hedgerows for wildlife in terms
of hedge structure, regrowth and
berry provision. This evidence for
the benefits of new, cost-effective
methods of hedgerow rejuvenation is
urgently needed if we are to halt the
decline in hedgerow condition.
Three ‘laying’ methods and
coppicing were effective at improving
hedgerow condition by stimulating
basal regrowth, increasing the density
of woody material at the base and
reducing gap size. When cost is not
a driving factor, traditional hedgelaying has a recognised aesthetic and
cultural appeal and a key role to play
in hedgerow rejuvenation. The study
demonstrated, however, that cheaper
alternative methods of rejuvenation
can increase the habitat value of
hedgerows for a range of wildlife to
a similar extent to that of traditional
hedge-laying, through successfully
stimulating regrowth to increase
the density of woody material in
the hedge base and reduce the size
of gaps.
The paper recommends the
widespread use of conservation
hedging as an alternative to, or to
complement, traditional hedgelaying. The lower cost of conservation
hedging could result in double
the length of hedgerow being
rejuvenated. The use of coppicing
should be restricted to areas with
a low chance of deer browsing,
and should be carried out on small
lengths of hedgerow at any one
time in order to minimise short-term
impacts on wildlife such as small
mammals. This new management
approach realises a potential to
double the length of hedgerow
currently rejuvenated under agrienvironment schemes.
Contact: Joanna Staley. E-mail:
jnasta@ceh.ac.uk. Tel: 01491
692701.
Reference
Staley, J. T., Amy, S. R., Adams, N. P.,
Chapman, R. E., Peyton, J. M., & Pywell,
R. F. 2015. Re-structuring hedges:
Rejuvenation management can improve
the long term quality of hedgerow
habitats for wildlife in the UK. Biological
Conservation 186: 187–196. See also:
www.hedgelink.org.uk
Managing for Scotland’s
mountain plants
S
ome of Scotland’s most iconic
habitats are found in the
mountains. Caught between
the warm and wet weather from the
Atlantic and the cold, dry weather
from Europe, these mountains are
home to a unique community of
plants – the arctic-alpines – with
species characteristic of European
alpine mountains growing alongside
others from arctic Scandinavia. A
significant number of these species,
however, are in decline, faced with
challenges such as climate change
and unsuitable land management.
On International Mountain Day
(11th December 2015), Plantlife
Scotland published some new
management advice, aimed at
ensuring that future generations
can enjoy these special mountain
plants.
172 British Wildlife February 2016
BWM27_3 05 habitat management news.indd 172
29/01/2016 13:06

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