Working with volunteers and apprentices to survey the extent, distribution and condition of hedgerows in the area, with follow-up hedge restoration and new planting projects.
Hedgerows are important for wildlife and are recognised as priority habitats for conservation. They link habitats, allowing animals to move more safely through landscapes undercover, encouraging them to do so more freely. Hedgerows can also be crucial for dormice and are one of their favoured places to breed.
Cumbria Wildlife Trust trained and worked with volunteers and apprentices to carry out a comprehensive hedgerow survey of much of the scheme area. It was the first time such research had been done and provided a valuable opportunity to gain baseline information and a clear indication of the issues affecting local hedgerows. The survey gave an insight into the condition, characteristics and what restoration might be needed in order to inform future conservation work. The scheme area is now one of the best mapped areas for hedgerow in the country.
In addition to surveying, with the valuable contribution of volunteers and apprentices, the project restored several hedges within the area by carrying out traditional laying techniques. New hedgerows were also planted at several locations around the scheme area which will contribute considerably to the area’s landscape in years to come.
Here are some initial results from the surveys:
Nationally some 600 plant species, 1500 insects, 65 birds and 20 mammals have been recorded in conjunction with hedges. For more information on the importance of hedgerows go to the Hedgelink website.
Hedgerows are very important for wildlife, including rare and threatened species such as brown hare, hazel dormouse, pipistrelle bat, red squirrel and barn owl. They create valuable corridors, enabling wildlife to migrate from site to site. Ancient and/or species rich hedgerows are thought to have declined by some 30% in Cumbria since the 1940s, meaning that habitats are becoming increasingly fragmented and isolating species populations.
The overall aim of the Hidden Hedgerows project was to Increase connectivity and reduce fragmentation of hedgerow habitat in the Rusland Horizons scheme area. Enhancing and restoring hedgerow habitat was a crucial task to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The surveys and restoration undertaken, by the now fully trained volunteers and apprentices, has provided an invaluable insight into the Rusland Valley environment and the extent, distribution and condition of hedgerows within the area.
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