Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)
UPDATED in 2013
EC4 Management of woodland edges
380 points per ha

The option is for the management of the strip of land adjacent to the woodland and not the woodland itself. The development of scrub along the edges of woodland provides important habitats for a range of wildlife, including invertebrates, birds and small mammals. This option is designed to encourage the woodland edge to grow out into the field and requires 6 m to be left uncultivated from the edge of the wood. A scrub and grass mosaic should be allowed to develop. The option should only be placed adjacent to predominantly native woodlands, particularly ancient woodlands. The woodlands can be under active or passive management. It may be used to enhance woodlands on your land, as well as those that border the farm but do not form part of the farm.

This option must be located on agricultural land adjacent to woodland, to allow development of the woodland edge. Therefore, where woodland covers an entire land parcel, this option should be located in the adjoining field.

The option is also eligible adjacent to woodlands where a ditch runs between the woodland and the field. However, it may not be practical to use this option if the ditch requires ongoing management or maintenance. This option may be located immediately adjacent to woodland receiving Forestry Commission funding, but there must be no overlap.

Buffer strip options may be located adjacent to these woodland-edge areas.

Woodland fringe habitat

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • Do not cultivate within 6 m of the woodland edge. Allow the woodland edge to grow out for up to 6 m.
  • Cover of scrub growth must not exceed 50 per cent of the area.
  • Cutting is only permitted to maintain the scrub and grass mosaic and for the control of the weeds listed below.
  • Trim no more than a third of the shrubby growth in any one calendar year. Do not cut during the bird breeding season (1 March to 31 August).
  • Do not supplementary feed or locate water troughs and mineral licks in such a way as to cause poaching on the woodland edge.
  • Only apply herbicides to spot-treat or weed-wipe for the control of injurious weeds (ie creeping and spear thistles, curled and broad-leaved docks or common ragwort) or invasive non-native species (eg Himalayan balsam, rhododendron or Japanese knotweed).
  • Do not apply fertilisers or manures.

Please note that any areas containing scrub may become ineligible for Single Payment Scheme (SPS) payments and would have to be removed from your SPS claim form. Please refer to the SPS Handbook and any supplements for more information, details in Appendix 2. Scrub areas are still eligible for ELS points. Please see Appendix 6 for a definition of scrub for SPS purposes.

Options for hedgerow trees

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, details in Appendix 2.

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

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