Devon hedge fund appeal

Silhouetted hedge plants protected by tree guardsA new hedge is planted

Of all the ways humans have shaped the Devon landscape, hedges have perhaps benefited the widest range of wild plants and animals...

 

A dormouse holding on to a branch by R Knott

Bumblebees feed on hawthorn nectar, brown hairstreak butterflies lay their eggs on blackthorn twigs. Yellowhammers and bullfinches nest in the hedge while dormice forage for berries and nuts.

But as man-made habitats it's up to us to ensure our Devon hedges are managed well for wildlife.

Devon has an amazing 53,000 kilometres of hedge, potentially the equivalent of 10,000 hectares of quality wildlife habitat. However, many of our hedges support only a fraction of the wildlife they have in the past. Only 38% of our hedges are in a favourable condition for wildlife, according to the State of Devon's Nature 2014 report.


What's the problem?

Some hedges are neglected, meaning they become 'gappy' and unsuitable as cover or nesting habitat. Many are cut short every year, instead of the traditional three-year cut that allowed more mature shrubs - taller hedges act as a windbreak, attracting more insects, which in turn become food for bats.

The earth bank of a Devon hedge is more vulnerable to erosion now that fields hold higher numbers of livestock - the risk is even greater in prolonged periods of heavy rain. It is thought that only 1% of Devon hedges are regularly rejuvenated in the way that traditionally allowed wildlife to thrive.


How giving to the Devon Hedge Fund can help

Hedge maintenance by DWTThe good news is that hedges are human creations, so the power to improve them for wildlife is in our hands. This work requires staff time, tools, volunteer support and training – this is why we are asking for donations to our Devon Hedge Fund.

All funds raised by this appeal will be spent initially on managing and restoring hedges on DWT nature reserves. Once this work has been carried out for the current year, any additional funds will go towards creation of new hedges at DWT's Woodah Farm or hedgerow management for bats across Devon as part of our Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project.

With the Devon Hedge Fund, the only banks are hedge banks and the big bonuses are enjoyed by wildlife.