Nature Diary: There is more to hedgerows than their visual aesthetic

They provide food for animals and store carbon to mitigate against climate change

Hedgegrows give rural Ireland that patchwork quilt landscape that Failte Ireland use in international tourism campaigns. Photograph: Getty Images

Hedgegrows give rural Ireland that patchwork quilt landscape that Failte Ireland use in international tourism campaigns. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Hedgerows are such a familiar part of our landscape that we take them for granted. They give rural Ireland that patchwork quilt landscape that Fáilte Ireland use in international tourism campaigns.

Yet it’s often only when we travel beyond Ireland and Britain that we appreciate what we have – when we see the absence of hedgerows in rural landscapes across much of the European mainland.

However, hedgerows are more important than their visual aesthetic, as they provide foods for birds, bees, and butterflies in spring and summer and nesting sites for many bird species.

They also prevent soil erosion and store carbon to mitigate against climate change. Landowners are forbidden from cutting hedges from March 1st to August 31st, for many of these reasons. The flowering of hedgerow shrubs such as blackthorn and whitethorn in the next few weeks remind us all of this valuable natural resource that needs to be looked after.  

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