Despite their rather quaint name, rural hedgerows are incredibly useful. True havens for biodiversity, hedgerows are vital for insects, animals, water, the soil and, of course, humans.
An ordinary feature with extraordinary properties.
Hedgerows are such an integral part of our landscapes that we sometimes forget they’re even there.
Yet this invaluable natural feature deserves the greatest of care and attention. Initially planted by humans in the 18th century to enclose farmland and contain livestock, hedgerows have become a fundamental part of what makes our countryside so beautiful and what keeps biodiversity thriving. While it’s true that the trees and shrubs constituting hedgerows aren’t necessarily the most visually spectacular, an extraordinary hidden world lies beneath their banal appearance.
Hedges foster biodiversity at every level
Paule Pointereau, member of AFAC-Agroforesteries.
Hedgerow specialist and plant enthusiast Paule Pointereau is a member of AFAC-Agroforesteries, a long-standing partner of the Yves Rocher Foundation. Here, she explains how hedges shelter animals from root to tip. “In France’s Grand-Ouest hedgerow regions, hedges are often established on top of embankments. This is ideal for many species of animals: badgers dig their setts beneath them, while rabbits, foxes, stone martens and weasels also carve out underground tunnels here, making the most of the healthy, dry soil provided by the roots. Above ground, the first metre allows nesting birds to build a home among the brambles and lower branches of the trees and shrubs. Tree trunks are ideal for insects and creeping ivy is a source of both nectar for bees and berries for overwintering birds. Further up, towards the tops of the shrubs and trees, birds of prey use the heights as hunting look-outs. And this all works together in perfect harmony.”
Hedgerows: nature’s best friend.
Operating as both ecological corridors and biodiversity hubs, hedgerows need to be protected for the countless benefits they provide to the environment. They serve as windbreaks to protect crops and livestock and stock carbon both under and above ground. The roots, meanwhile, prevent soil erosion and filter out pollutants.
These are just some of the many reasons that inspire us to continue preserving and planting across our regions. All that’s left to for you to join the movement!
Following the French land redistribution movement that was introduced in the mid-20th century to modernise the farming sector, France lost 70% of its hedgerows across the country. Even today, 11,500 km of hedges disappear every year due to poor hedgerow management.