Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2010 (NE226)

NEW Options for hedgerow trees

View of the edge of Exmoor, showing the importance of hedgerow trees in the landscape.

Hedgerow trees are distinctive historic and landscape features in many areas. They are also particularly important for wildlife, providing several habitats in one location for a broad range of wildlife, in particular birds and invertebrates.

Many hedgerow trees have been lost over the latter half of the 20th century partly because of the intensification of agriculture alongside outbreaks of diseases such as Dutch elm disease. Currently we have an ageing hedgerow tree population and need to take action to establish new trees and conserve young trees already growing in hedgerows. However, the establishment of new hedgerow trees may not be suitable in areas that provide habitat for breeding waders, for example lapwing, which prefer wide open landscapes.

For detailed guidance on the creation of hedgerow trees and their management, please refer to the Natural England publication NE69, entitled Hedgerow trees: answers to 18 common questions. A copy of this can be obtained from the Natural England website at www.naturalengland.org.uk


NEW OPTIONS in 2010  
EC23    Establishment of hedgerow trees by tagging
1 point per tree

To be eligible for this option:

  • Hedgerow trees must already be a feature on the holding or in the immediate landscape.
  • A maximum number of two trees per 100 m of hedge can be established under this option. Each tree established will earn the specified number of points.
  • Hedges that are subject to this option must also be managed under one of the ELS hedgerow management options: EB1, EB2, EB3, EB8, EB9 or EB10.

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • Within the first 12 months of your agreement, select a sapling with a single straight stem, ideally when the hedge has been left uncut for at least a year. Select only locally native tree species that are already successful in the hedge or immediate landscape, with the exception of elm due to the risk of Dutch elm disease.
  • Alternatively, if you cannot identify any suitable saplings, plant a sapling into an existing gap in the hedgerow. The sapling must be at least 2 m tall. Follow the species guidance detailed above.
  • Saplings should be far enough apart (at least 20 m) to allow them to develop full crowns without competing with one another. Keep trees at an irregular spacing.
  • Do not select or plant saplings beneath or within 20 m of overhead power lines, other overhead or underground services.
  • Tag each new hedgerow tree using a brightly coloured durable material. If a tree is difficult to reach, put a tagged stick near it - in the ground or hedge. Alternatively, consider putting a permanent clearly visible stake in the hedge next to the tree.
  • Make a record of the tagged trees and show the person cutting the hedge where the trees are to ensure they are not cut or damaged for the length of the agreement.
  • Revisit the trees annually to check tags are in place, replacing the tags as necessary.
  • At the end of the agreement, there must be a living undamaged tree for each tree established under this option.

Careful hedge trimming allows young trees to grow through the hedge.
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