Now as were are officially in autumn many people look to it being the end of something rather than the beginning of something different.Ok so you can’t sunbathe or go to the beach or even strip off outside for very long but you can still enjoy all the different things that nature has to offer.
Last week (on Monday) for instance with the temperature dropping,I took the opportunity to have a walk around the local countryside and of course I took the camera with me. With the country affording us sunrises such as this,it wasn’t difficult to find wildlife to match although I was a little disappointed to find large fields with little surrounding hedgerows for the wildlife to nest.
Hedgerows are seen as one of the defining features of English landscape and are important habitats for wildlife, such as birds, small mammals and invertebrates. They are often the oldest remaining feature in the countryside, providing important evidence of its historic development.
Although the countryside has never remained static in form, changes in recent decades have led to concerns at the rate at which hedgerows were disappearing. This was not only because they were deliberately being removed (e.g. to make larger fields) but also because they became derelict (i.e. they ceased to be cut and managed as hedges and grew into lines of bushes and trees). These problems are tackled separately through legislation to control removal and financial incentives to encourage management.
Although arable farming is not the only reason for hedgerow removal, it has, in most recent times been the main cause. Arable farmers have less reason to retain and maintain hedgerows and are more likely to see economic reasons for enlarging fields and widening gateways. Under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997, it is against the law to remove most countryside hedges without first getting the permission of your local council. Between 1984 and 1993, the length of managed hedgerows in the UK decreased by nearly a third. In the latter part of that period, the decline slowed, with the rate of new planting of new hedgerows exceeding the rate of removal between 1990 and 1993.
Farmers may see justification in trimming hedgerows annually to maintain a very low box shape, but this is detrimental to many species of wildlife. Birds prefer less intensively managed hedges. The main reasons for maintaining small tightly trimmed hedges is to minimize yield loss at field margins and a desire for ‘tidiness’. Barr et al (1991) reported a significant increase in relict (surviving, left behind, in this case specifically unmanaged) hedgerows or lines of trees and shrubs through lack of management.
I hope that reversals in this way of farming will change and once again all the species under threat will show a gradual increase in numbers,so increasing the stocks in the food chain and bring back some species from near extinction.