Hedge Cutting & Planting
Hedge trimming using flail cutters should be relaxed to biennial and triennial cycles where safety and sightlines are not compromised.
- Mixed species hedges should be encouraged, either through new planting, gapping up or appropriate field edge management.
- A mixture of cutting regimes should be planned on each farm, including at least some September cutting to allow insect larvae to survive in spring.
- Where possible, allow some sections of hedge (e.g. hedge nodes) to be left uncut for longer time periods (10+ years) to allow extra berry production and to support specialist species dependent on these features (e.g. greater horseshoe bat).
- Hedge laying should be encouraged as a regeneration technique that enhances farm wildlife. In contrast, coppicing has short-term detrimental effects on wildlife.
- Hedge bases are an important habitat for plant and invertebrate diversity, and consequently other wildlife. There are important ecological interactions between hedge and hedge base, such that an integrated approach to hedgerow management should be adopted.
- Cutting of hedge base vegetation, particularly in autumn, should be avoided where possible. Rotational cutting can be adopted where necessary, ensuring undisturbed habitat refuges.
- Degraded hedge bases may be enhanced by restorative techniques such as resowing. However, minimising ongoing damage through sensitive field operations remains a priority.
- Reduced cutting regimes are likely to result in financial savings