Preservation, maintenance and replanting of hedges

Preservation, maintenance and replanting of hedges
Hedges are linear connecting elements of the biotope network © Yann Kohler

Involved sectors

Agriculture, Water management, Hunting, Spatial planning, Tourism and leisure, Nature protection

Affected habitats

Bogs and fens, wetlands, Grassland, Arable land

Description

Hedges are linear biotopes. They contribute to biodiversity and biotope connectivity, especially in heavily cleared landscapes with a small amount of, or no, forest or grassland. A healthy hedge with structural diversity provides a habitat for a large number of animals and is an important transit route for numerous small mammals and insects during migration and dispersion and when searching for food. Nowadays, hedgerows have virtually no commercial use and the trimming required for their regeneration tends not to take place. This means that a conscious decision must be taken to maintain the hedgerows as part of a biotope network as ageing hedges accommodate a far smaller number of species.

Impact

Impact in particular on Small mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Birds, Insects
Ecological impact  
Reduction of fragmentation or creation of new valuable habitats In cleared agricultural landscapes with large fields and land surfaces, hedges, as transit routes and ecological corridors, can reduce the fragmenting effect of the agricultural land.
Improvement or preservation of habitats Hedges are very important habitats for numerous birds, insects, amphibians, spiders and also some species of mammals.
Element of ecological network Due to their linear form, they act as 'transit routes' for birds and bats, for example, and in most cases, they are the only way for reptiles to survive migration. In a biotope network, e.g. with rock fragment piles or small bodies of water, the valuable ecological impact of hedges is increased further by spatial contact with other species.
Other Hedges have a stabilising effect on the surrounding agricultural landscape, provide visual cover and some noise insulation and are thought attractive by people. They differ greatly from their surroundings in terms of exposure to sunlight, evaporation, temperature, soil moisture, air humidity and wind exposure.
Time of realisation for measure Months: Depending on the type of hedge and technique used, replanted hedges take different amounts of time to fully develop and become populated by fauna. Their function as transit structures can be fulfilled relatively quickly.
Impact scope Very localised (plot): The direct impact of hedges is very localised, however they can also gain regional importance when integrated in a biotope system.

Implementation

Implementation period Days: To allow them to regenerate, the shrubs forming the hedges must be trimmed in sections every 10 to 20 years depending on the type of shrub. The margin must be maintained every 1 to 2 years.
Frequency Recurring: Hedges must be maintained or cut back over the years.

Economic and legal aspects

Costs Low (1'000-10'000 EUR): Costs vary greatly depending on the different maintenance and planting or construction techniques.
Socio-economic impacts Medium: Provision of wood without using any additional land, creation of regional value-added chains, preservation of yield increases from land near hedges, enhancement of the landscape for tourism.
Sources of financing Private sponsor, Other private sources, Public: local, Public: regional, Public: national, Public: European
Legal situation In many regions the preservation, maintenance and replanting of hedges are supported by nature conservation or agricultural subsidies.

Further information

Evaluation The positive impact of hedges in biotope network projects has been described in numerous scientific studies, whereby account must be taken of the objective of these biotope network projects here. Such investigations and strategies to maintain and valorise hedge landscapes exist in the Champsaur Valley, at the edge of the Ecrins National Park in France, for example.
Information Other: Nature conservation societies, nature conservation departments in authorities, numerous regional biotope network projects (e.g. the Grand Marais (Grosses Moos) biotope network: http://www.biotopverbund.ch/)
Contact Other: "Grosses Moos" project leader: Martin Johner Head of Scientific Department, Ecrins National Park: Richard Bone

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