Hands-on-Hedges – Practice meets Policy

In September Sally Westaway from ORC attended an international field symposium on hedgerows in Bemmel, The Netherlands. It was organized by Heg & Landschap, a Netherland’s based Association promoting hedges in landscape management.

The focus of the symposium was on practical experience, the implications for policy and regulation and providing concrete management recommendations. It was a great opportunity to exchange knowledge and experience on the planting and management of hedgerows amongst the participants from across Northern Europe.

A recently managed mixed species hedge in Maasheggen.
This hedge was almost lost under a dense thicket of
blackthorn until it was laid by the forestry service last

Day 1 looked at the building stones of hedges, their historical importance and current and future roles of hedgerows in the landscape. There were a series of inspiring talks covering topics from the immense amount of biodiversity found in a single hedgerow to the use of hedgerow material for tree fodder. The scale of hedgerow loss in Europe over the last century was also discussed along with ways to secure the future of Europe’s hedgerows.

Day 2 focused on the sustainable management of hedgerows with a field trip to Maasheggen, an area of approximately 1,500 ha of floodplain land, constituting one of Netherlands most important hedgerow landscapes. This island of old hedgerow systems sits amidst a more intensively farmed landscape where hedges have been removed. The hedgerow management cycle was discussed as a tool to aid management decisions and to help farmers understand their hedges and some lively discussions took place in the field about the best ways to manage blackthorn hedges.

Unfortunately I was unable to stay for day 3 where funding for hedgerow management and methods of getting people engaged with their hedgerow heritage were discussed and I look forward to hearing what was discussed and to the symposium report, which will be available here.

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