Planting a species rich hedgerow is an excellent way of achieving a net-gain in biodiversity for your site or project. Using one to create a new natural barrier or screen; or, enhancing an existing hedgerow will improve wildlife connectivity and provide a valuable habitat for a wide amount of protected, priority and common species of animals.
Hedgerows are protected in the UK if they meet certain criteria, viewable here. Hedgerows are also a NERC Act (2006) Section 41 Habitat. Generally, a species rich hedgerow is a one with 5 or more woody species within 30 m stretches.
More Than Numbers
Creating a species rich hedgerow should not just be an arbitrary number of planted woody species per 30 m along the length of the hedgerow. An ecologist worth their salt, when surveying hedgerows, would describe more than just the botanical composition of a hedgerow. The structural diversity and shelter, including the structure and species of the ‘hedge-bottom vegetation’ are also important; these are the features which together influence invertebrate diversity. Invertebrate diversity being directly related to biodiversity.
Impress The LPA
Local Planning Authorities will often have specific biodiversity policies within their council local plans, easily found via council websites. As a random example take policy ENV1 from the Black Country Local Plan’s Core Strategy (accessed here):
All appropriate development should positively contribute to the natural environment of the Black Country by:
• Extending nature conservation sites;
• Improving wildlife movement; and/or
• Restoring or creating habitats / geological features which actively contribute to the implementation of Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) and/or Geodiversity Action Plans (GAPs) at a national, regional or local level.
Therefore, an ecologist and developer could impress the LPA (which fall within the Black Country area) by adding something like ‘planting hedgerows would positively contribute to ENV1: ‘Improving wildlife movement’ and ‘Restoring or creating habitats…’. etc… Council’s love this.
Species Rich Hedgerow
Feel free to use the below diagram which I have personally created, on Photoshop, for enhancement plans and other documents — as a general example of the composition of a typical UK species rich hedgerow.
So, what kind of species can you plant? I dug a little bit further into the Black Country core strategy and the document often referenced the Nature Conservation Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). Locating this document revealed the below species list, which may be of use for tree and hedge planting for a site in the Black Country area, an example of the usefulness of digging into core strategies and local plans of various LPA’s.
Categories: Ecologists Area