Another fantastic article written by the Nidderdale Moorland Group explaining how sporting estates do a lot of conservation work that does not just benefit shooting. The Estates are managing the ground so that they can be enjoyed by future generations.
Alongside digging drainage grips on our moorlands after the two world wars, we also lost tens of thousands of hedgerows in a bid to increase the land available for agriculture to increase food production after the shortages suffered by the population in the war years.
As we now continue blocking these drainage grips to rewet the moorlands and planting new woodlands on ghyll edges our upland estates and farmers are also planting and maintaining hedgerows in Nidderdale.
Hedgerows are arguably one of the most important features of our countryside forming a route of passage, criss-crossing landscapes and enabling wildlife to move about safely, connecting populations that would otherwise remain isolated.
It has being recorded that hedges support over 500 plant species, 60 different species of birds, invertebrates, insects, bats and almost all our native small mammal species including Dormice and Hedgehogs.
Hedges can be made up of many different shrubs and trees with regional variations, just like the stone used to build dry stone walls, the most common species being Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Hazel, Holly, Field Maple, Beech, Crab Apple, Dog Rose, Guelder Rose, Common Dogwood, Rowan, Bramble and Honeysuckle.
Hedges, like our drystone walls, need regular maintenance to keep them stock proof and healthy.
Traditional skills such as hedge laying and the planting up of any gaps, alongside the more modern hedge cutters, are work of the autumn and winter months when the hedges are dormant and wildlife such as birds have finished breeding.
Hedgerows are recognised as a priority habitat for conservation action in Englands Biodiversity 2020 targets.
To see what else the Nidderdale Moorland group have been doing go to:
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