Hedgerow sustainability: An integrated part of farming or conservation wishful thinking?
Over recent decades, the role hedgerows play in the ecology of our farmed landscape has become increasingly documented. The early research papers on hedgerows featured work on the inconvenience to efficient farming they cause. It is only recently, probably as we become more aware of the wildlife losses being suffered on farmed land, that the ecological role of these vital non-cropped, semi-natural vegetation oases are playing have become apparent.
Yet it is easy to forget that hedgerows and field boundaries are on the farm as tools and have a farming function like water troughs or tractors. This paper explores the arguments for and against the retention of hedgerows and tries to assess their value from both perspectives of the farming: conservation viewpoint.