Hedgerows

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HEDGEROW SURVEY ON THE NORTHERN LIMIT OF RISEHOLME PARK

INTRODUCTION

In Old English hedge means haga or enclosure, from this we can deduce that hedges were and still are used to limit and/or protect areas for different reasons and also that they are not natural but are manmade (Brown, 2000). Living hedges are formed of shrubs and trees that are called hedgerows when they are organized in alinear way. They were usually planted with just one species that after some time were secondary colonized by other species. Amongst the different territories of England, hedgerows were planted for different reasons; some of them were used for limiting areas that belonged to different counties, parishes and individual properties; as an enclosure to prevent animals escaping from farms, asbarriers to prevent predators from entering, as fuel or food. They were also used at the sides of lanes that led from one community to another one, to enclose hunting parks for members of the aristocracy and some of them were even planted for their magical powers (Brown, 2000; Community Heritage Initiative, no date). Over time hedges became very important, first because they give habitats for animalssuch as insects, birds and mammals, where they look for food and shelter and as well for different plant species and second because ancient hedges are historic monuments themselves.

The majority of hedgerows around England were planted three to four hundred years ago (1600 – 1700), but some of them could date back more than a thousand years where the first reference of a British hedge wasrecorded and there is even an earlier reference from two thousand years ago, where a living hedge in the Midlands is mentioned (Pollard et al., 1974). The main enclosure period for Lincolnshire is the same as mentioned before, as stated by the Lincolnshire Biodiversity Partnership (2006), which also states that the original purpose for planting hedgerows in this county was to mark parish limits andkeep farm animals enclosed to keep them in a certain place and to protect them from the wild animals that lived around that time.

A botanist called Max Hooper came up with a hypothesis on how the age of a hedgerow could be determined. He suggested that the number of woody species in 30 yards of a hedge is correlated to the age of the hedge in centuries (Pollard et al., 1974). This hypothesis isvery useful, but it has been determined that it has a margin of error of one or two centuries and that is why it should be accompanied by other factors, like maps and documents if available and by the types of the species growing in them (Elliott, 1993; Brooks and Agate, 1998)

The objective of this practical was to try to determine the possible age of some hedgerows at the northern limit ofRiseholme Park that are likely to be old as it is shown on the Ordnance survey map of 1966, basing it upon Max Hooper’s hypothesis and to understand the importance of preserving and protecting the hedges for both their natural and historical importance.

METHOD

The location of the hedgerow that was surveyed was at the northern limit of Riseholme Park in a quadrant called Cumulus, this place wasdeliberately used as it is shown in an estate map provided that was likely to be old. The group was divided into 14 teams and each one of them was in charge of surveying a length of 30 yards of the hedgerow. The procedure was made by walking along this line identifying the species that were introduced previously and given to the whole group and that were relevant to this study. The names of thewoody species that were found were recorded, then the numbers of the different species were totalled and these results were recorded with the others of the whole group.

The species found in the individual data from the team were recorded in a histogram, in order to give some information about the origin of the hedgerow and to see how it relates to the results from the whole group.

After...
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