Hedges are a typical landscape feature of the lowland British countryside. They may be remnants of ancient woodland retained to form barriers, or have been planted at any time during the past thousand years. Although they are most commonly associated with agricultural landscapes, they are also important features of gardens, churchyards and many university and college campuses.
Since the 1940’s, the extent and quality of UK hedgerows has seriously declined due to agricultural intensification, development and neglect. In parts of the country, half of the hedgerows have been lost and many more have been severely neglected.
A wide variety of plant and animal species use hedges. Ancient or species-rich hedgerows are of the greatest importance for biodiversity. All hedges may act as wildlife corridors, allowing species to travel from one habitat block to another. They are particularly important in relatively woodless areas such as parts of Northern Ireland.
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