In 1998 members of Bergh Apton Conservation Trust carried out a survey of all the hedges within our village boundary by comparing the hedges which appeared to exist in 1905 (using the Ordnance Survey 2nd edition 1/2,500 (25 inches to the mile) map as the basis) with what were present at that time, the results being recorded on a large map of the village.
Every year since then, on two afternoons or evenings each summer, we have surveyed the hedges in the field, in 30 metre sections, recording the species of plants present, ground flora, the height and condition of the hedge, whether a ditch or bank is present and if there are any ancient or notable trees. Results are recorded on Norfolk County Council Hedge & Boundary Survey recording sheets.
In 2012 a copy of all the recording sheets was passed to Norfolk County Council’s Biodiversity Information Service to make them available to a wider audience and copies of the rest will be similarly sent when the survey is completed.
By the end of 2018 we had surveyed 27,780 metres (over 17 miles) of hedge but, at the current rate of surveying, we still have about five years to go before we will have covered every hedge in the village. A total of 34 BACT members have taken part in the survey over the years and the results have been used as the basis of a university dissertation.
Landowners who have given us permission to access their land for the survey have on occasion requested and been very pleased to receive a detailed report from us detailing the condition of the hedges on their land, their wildlife value and plant species found.
In 2001 the project was extended to replanting sections of hedge when time and resources allow. The 1998 survey was used to identify important hedges (such as along footpaths or parish boundaries) that have been lost since 1905, and replanting them. Since then we have held 16 planting days with over 50 individuals taking part, and have replanted over 2,000 metres of hedge.
We have found the project to have many benefits. You do not need to be an expert as long as you have good plant identification books and maps. You can also start with just one or two people as others will almost certainly want to get involved when they see you walking around your village clipboard in hand. We now know our village far better than we did in 1998, as surveying hedges often takes us to parts of Bergh Apton not open to public access (with the landowners’ permission of course) and the records form part of the village archive available to future generations. Also, the new hedges we have planted obviously benefit wildlife. Finally, it’s been an excellent “team building” exercise and great fun!
For more information on the Bergh Apton Hedgerow Project please contact Bob Kerry on 01508 480661 or email@example.com.