By Sue Evans, GWCT Director Wales
A friend sent me this photo with her caption - “Never anticipated this problem. Was well stuck straddling the fence. Now extracted .” It got me thinking when we at GWCT talk of our three legged stool (habitat, food and protection) approach to conservation I’d not thought of protecting vulnerable species from anything but predators. When I sent this round the Charity (as it had amused me and so to brighten up people’s day) it prompted a response from one of my most respected colleagues and started a discussion. He implied that is why we need Government to recognise the value of hedges in our future schemes then we will be able to replace hedgehog hurting wire with hedgehog loving hedges!
To which I responded “I like your thinking. What’s going to protect the hedges from the livestock?”
Then came back “Guards. Then an electric strand run from mini solar panels in the field – keeps the battery charged – we are using these to split up the paddocks in the multi-species ley trial. This means you can do this miles from anywhere without having to lug batteries to and from to charge them.
Then you need to start to let the stock graze the hedge as part of their diet – see our work on tree fodder That saves cutting too, lowering carbon emissions.
Join up the dots…………………...”
And I do think there maybe something in his tongue in cheek suggestion that we could look into. With regenerative farming and precision cropping being considered as a future for Welsh agriculture by many farmers we may see more smaller fields which could be enclosed with hedgerows if Welsh Government were willing to incentivise this move. “There’s something in that” I replied “- though I don’t think you’ve got Welsh sheep – I’ve never known them respect an electric fence!
I love your work on stock eating trees. We’ve always enabled this with coppicing where we can. The stock love the deep rooting stuff.
We need to run a demonstration project in Wales– good thinking Batman ”
And he finished off with “Well, being pragmatic, perhaps you’ll have to fence the hedge to get it established – in the long term you are heading towards the solution that way.”
Written by Sue Evans, GWCT Cymru Director
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