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Understanding the biodiversity benefits of the component parts of the hedgerow - BD5214

Hedgerows are of considerable importance to biodiversity within farmed landscapes. They provide habitat, food, places to breed, shelter and movement corridors for a very wide range of plants and animals. For example, a current study on a farm in Devon has found over 1,800 species associated with a single hedge. Without hedges, it is probable that much wildlife would disappear from large tracts of farmland. Hedgerows are much more than just lines of bushes. Most also have one or more of the following components: mature trees, banks, ditches and herbaceous margins. Together these comprise the hedge. However, the way in which these components act together to support wildlife is poorly understood, with the result that each tends to be managed independently. This research projects addresses this gap in our knowledge and is intended to increase the effectiveness of conservation measures. As an example, bumblebees, numbers of which are currently falling across much of England, are known to require not just flowering shrubs like pussy willow in the spring, but also flowers in field margins during the summer and safe places to hibernate in hedge bottoms in the winter. This relationship will be explored in detail, and guidance given on how all three components – shrubs, margins and hedge bottoms – can be managed in a complementary manner to benefit the bees.
The results from the project will be used to improve hedge management advice, especially the management options within Environmental Stewardship, the scheme which provides agreements between Natural England and land managers to deliver environmental objectives. These agreements, which are publicly funded, are central to Government's sustainable agriculture and rural development policies. In particular the research will help those species listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan which are considered priorities for conservation action because they are threatened – 130 such species are known to be associated with hedges. The likely impact of climate change will be considered too, with management advice being offered which will help hedges to continue to support a rich diversity of life in a changing world.
1. To conduct a Project Inception Meeting with the Project Director and key Defra personnel. This objective will be met by the end of week 1 of the project, and will be completed upon meeting key project personnel.

2. To undertake a desk-based review of available information to identify species/groups which are dependent on one or more hedgerow components and their optimal management. (This will be limited to BAP/Section 41 species and other species of conservation concern which are indicators of farmland quality).

3. To describe the links and assess the relationship between a species or species group that to those habitat components upon which it is dependent. The relationship between each component to one another and to the population size of the particular species or species group will also be considered.

4. To use selected species or species groups which are dependent on more than one component to develop recommended models of hedgerow management at both individual hedge and landscape level, which will support and sustain a wide range of organisms, including a consideration of climate change.

5. To provide at least eight management advice sheets for key species/groups of species summarising which hedge components should be managed and how, covering the full range of major landscape types from lowland and upland, to pastoral and arable. These will make reference to relevant ELS and HLS options which could be used in isolation or in combination, and recommended Indicators of Success (IoS) for HLS options.

6. To provide recommendations for changes to relevant existing ES options. This will include both prescription changes and species specific Indicators of Success IoS). We will also highlight where there is the potential for new ES options.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : BD5214 Hedgerow contract final report   (1578k)
• ANX - Annex : 2013 Annex C Review of Environmental Stewardship hedge provisions FINAL   (770k)
• ANX - Annex : 2013 Annex D Bibliography for Hedgerow FINAL   (535k)
• SPE - Specification : BD5214 Spec   (685k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2012

To: 2013

Cost: £21,850
Contractor / Funded Organisations
KP Ecology Ltd, Bright Angel Coastal Consultants Ltd. , Robert Wolton, University of Stafford
Environmental Stewardship