This is a handbook of hedgerow management. It is intended to be used by conservation volunteers and others interested in creating and maintaining hedgerows.
Hedging was first published in 1975. Since that time there has been a change in policy towards hedgerows, from one which subsidised their removal in the cause of agricultural efficiency, to one which is beginning to provide protection for ‘important’ hedgerows, and give some assistance to the cost of creating and maintaining hedgerows. However, protection is still limited, and rates of hedgerow loss have only at last begun to decline in the last decade.
There has also been a revival in the craft of hedge laying. Traditionally this was only carried out by farm workers, but through organisations such as The Conservation Volunteers, opportunities arose for volunteers to learn the craft. Employment opportunities increased through the growth of countryside management services, with traditional skills such as hedge laying an important part of the work. As well as rangers and other countryside staff, there are an increasing number of contractors who specialise in hedge laying. Volunteers continue to play an important part in maintaining the skill of hedge laying, and passing it on through projects, training courses, competitions and demonstrations.
This revised edition contains most of the information from the original edition, with extra details on the craft of hedge laying, reflecting the expertise which has been gained during the intervening years by volunteers and professional hedge layers. A new chapter concentrates on the techniques for restoring hedges from neglect, the fate of so many hedges today. Another addition is a chapter describing many regional and local styles of hedge laying which were not included in the first edition.
Measurements are generally given in imperial, with the metric equivalent in brackets, with the diagrams labelled in imperial only, for clarity. Hedge laying is one of many crafts, as well as other day to day activities such as gardening, that has not adapted to the metric system, and most people continue to use the comfortable and easy-to-visualise approximations of ‘about 4”’ or ‘just over a foot’. The only metric measurement commonly used in hedging work is that of the metre, used for measuring lengths of hedgerow, and possibly that is only used because people know it is about 3’ or one yard, which they can visualise. Metric measurements are the standard for describing hedging plants and other nursery stock, and are used here. Statistical studies of hedgerow length tend to be measured in kilometres, which most people will need to convert to miles for comparison with lengths they can imagine.
It is interesting to note that hedge laying traditionally used some extra body measurements in addition to those of the standard imperial system, with the ‘elbow to fist’ length giving the spacing of the stakes, and the fist measuring the height of the stake above the binding.
National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs)
This book is a key reference for the practical ways of creating and maintaining hedgerows. It contains realistic advice including standards of good practice. As such, it is an invaluable aid to anyone wishing to gain an NVQ or SVQ covering the management of boundary habitats and other aspects of practical conservation. By following the advice within the book and working to the standards given, you will generate useful evidence of levels of competence. Collating this evidence correctly for your assessor will count towards your NVQ or SVQ or equivalent.