Monday 6 May marks the start of National Hedgerow Week! Ecologist Emma Scotney discusses their importance and why she's been creating hedgerows at one of her County Wildlife Sites, Tamar Lakes

Hedgerows are iconic features in our landscapes and are a familiar sight for us in the south west. We have lost around 50% of our hedgerows since the Second World War, but, there is hope, with still half a million miles of hedgerows spanning in the UK. Hedgerows are vital to our biodiversity and are known to support over 2,000 species and some are considered as Priority Habitats. 

Find out more here. 


We understand the importance of healthy and biodiverse habitats and connected landscapes at South West Lakes Trust and as part of our County Wildlife Site project we have been managing and creating habitats over the south west. At one of our County Wildlife Sites, Tamar Lakes, we have focused on hedgerows and in the last couple of years have managed and created this key habitat. 

Since 2022, we have planted over 2,000 tree saplings at Tamar Lakes, which has created over 500m of new hedgerow and gapped up 60m of existing hedgerow. You may have noticed these new trees as you are driving into Upper Tamar Lake or taking a stroll around the lake's circular walk. 


We have planted a variety of locally grown species including; hazel, blackthorn, dogwood, crab apple, field maple, dog rose, blackthorn, silver birch, rowan and oak. Throughout some of the new hedgerow, we have oak trees as ‘standards’ which mean that they will be left to grow to their full potential. These improvements and creations of hedgerows at Tamar Lakes will: 

  • Improve the connectivity to other habitats such as woodlands
  • Increase the amount of flowers, nuts and fruits throughout spring, summer and autumn
  • Provide shelter and nesting opportunities for animals like small mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians
  • Enhance habitat diversity
  • Increase carbon capture
  • Reduce flooding and improve water quality

Also at Tamar Lakes, in 2023, we employed specialist contractors, Langore Tree Services, to manage some of our existing hedgerow (around the woodlands behind the campsite).

This hedge was managed by using the traditional technique of laying and was all done by hand. Laying a hedge is process where the trees are partially cut at the bases, which are then lowered and interwoven along the hedge bank. The trees remain alive and start to resprout the following year, creating a hedge full of new, young growth. This management is essential for healthy hedges and prevents the hedge from becoming gappy or growing too old. 


From our surveys on the County Wildlife Site project we know that there are several species of bats and birds on site, other small mammals such as dormice and harvest mice, reptiles such as common lizard and grass snake and lots of invertebrates which will benefit from our new and improved hedgerows. 


Thank you to the Woodland Trust, MoreHedge fund and South West Water for funding our new trees. To our volunteers for helping plant them and to our contractors Langore Tree Services for expertly managing our hedges.