Rushcliffe Country Park has again welcomed a traditional hedge-laying technique to help manage its hedgerows sustainably, helping to provide a valuable habitat and food source for wildlife.
Park rangers and Friends of Rushcliffe Country Park (FoRCP) volunteers are undertaking the manual technique which involves cutting the hedge tree thinly at the base and lying them on their side, an annual practice they have used for decades in certain places of the park.
New shoots will arrive in spring, creating a dense hedge, originally developed as a livestock barrier that will now enhance local biodiversity and create a more manageable hedge compared with mechanical techniques.
Hedge-laying has been used for hundreds of years but has been slowly dying out since WW2 due to the introduction of mechanical hedge cutting from tractors and readily available wire fencing.
Rushcliffe Borough Council’s Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Wellbeing, ICT and Member Development Cllr Jonathan Wheeler said:
“We’re proud to keep this traditional country hedge-laying technique at our park which helps to keep our hedges in a much better condition than mechanical flailing.
“It’s a manual activity which is carried out over the colder months whilst the hedges are not growing or supporting wildlife such as nesting birds.
“Hedgerows provide vital resources for mammals, birds, and insect species and contribute to carbon reduction and we have a strategic aim to increase the Borough’s hedgerow network by 40% across the Borough by 2050.
“A big thank you to our park rangers and the FoRCP for working hard to keep this wonderful hedge laying tradition alive. We look forward to seeing the fantastic results in the spring.”
Rushcliffe Country Park Manager Alastair Glenn added: “As well as being an important habitat in their own right, hedgerows act as wildlife corridors allowing dispersal between isolated habitats.
“Our rangers and the FoRCP build the hedgerows every year and it’s a great way to stay physically active, socialise and improve the park.”
FoRCP volunteer Rosemary Dove said: “Hedge laying is extremely beneficial to wildlife, providing habitat, wildlife corridors and food.
“We have been sharing this skill between volunteers for many years and it has become a real team effort alongside the park rangers, from harvesting our own stakes from the park, to clearing the old growth and laying the hedge itself. It’s a great social thing to do.”
The FoRCP group meet every Wednesday from 8.30am to 2pm to help create and maintain habitats and conservation work, learn and share knowledge about wildlife and nature, and help improve the park and its facilities.
To join the friendly group, search for ‘Rushcliffe Country Park’ on Facebook or contact the Country Park Rangers on 0115 921 5865.
Joining leaflets are also available in the park’s Visitor Centre where new members can fill out a form and sign up in person.