Changes to Hedgerows

Hedgerows are valuable wildlife corridors, aiding the movement of wildlife in and out of a landscape. A wildlife corridor is an area connecting habitats separated by human development and is important to help prevent habitat fragmentation.

Hedges protect small animals and birds as they travel along under protective vegetation. They provide valuable shelter for animals and help to curb soil erosion and flooding, yet their numbers are decreasing. The Northern Ireland Countryside Survey 2000 report indicates there was a 4% loss of hedgerows between 1991 and1998. On some intensive dairy farms, hedgerows have been replaced by a paddock system to regulate grazing.

Hedgerows are removed so that large machinery can manoeuvre more easily. Their disadvantages include shading of crops and harbouring of pests and weeds.

Animals that benefit from hedges

Badgers find refuge in the hedgerows of Tymon Regional Park, Dodder Valley Regional Park, Liffey Valley and Ballymount Parks. They are omnivores, eating mainly earthworms. Badgers are protected under the Wildlife Act 1976 (Amendment) Act 2000 and internationally.

Hedgehogs are one of the mammals that inhabit the protective cover of the hedgerow. Hedgehogs (Grainneóg) are familiar, spiny mammals (with up to 7000 spines) found in open woodlands and hedgerows.

Predators, such as long-eared owls and foxes visit hedgerows to feed on small mammals and young birds. They are common in habitats with good cover and plenty of small invertebrates for them to forage for.

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