Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2013 (NE349)
ELS_EB14
NEW in 2013
EB14 Hedgerow restoration
10 points per m

Please note this option is subject to approval by the European Commission.

The aim of this option is to rejuvenate hedgerows on the farm to encourage the development of thick, dense, continuous hedges, which link other hedges and habitats, such as ponds and woodlands to benefit wildlife and improve the historic landscape character.

Hedges that are a priority for restoration

  • Short, overtrimmed and gappy hedges, or tall, thin and gappy hedges.
  • Hedges connected to woods or adjacent to ponds, or other watercourses, to link habitats.
  • Hedges adjacent to other management options such as buffer strips, field corners and nectar mixes, as this will add value to the habitat.
  • Hedges alongside public rights of way or in conspicuous parts of the farm where landscape and access improvements can be best appreciated.
  • Hedges of particular historic interest such as parish boundaries.

You must have management control over both sides of the hedge and of the land adjacent to the hedge, and the hedge must fit the eligibility criteria for all hedge options (see page 44).

How can a hedge be restored?

There are two methods of restoration available under this option:

  • Hedge laying. This involves the complete rejuvenation of the hedge by partially cutting through the woody stems close to ground level and laying them over to create a dense barrier, from which regrowth should shoot. Hedges or sections of hedge suitable for laying are those comprising shrubs at least 3 m in height with frequent stems up to 25 cm in diameter. There must be sufficient suitable stems to make a laid hedge of living pleachers (the laid stems).
  • Hedge gapping up. This involves establishing new plants into gaps in an existing hedge. It can also be combined with laying to ensure the development of a continuous hedge. To be eligible for gapping up at least one-quarter of the hedge must still consist of shrubs and/or trees.

You can enter up to 40 m on your application form. This represents the annual commitment. Hence, if you enter 40 m on your application form, you will be required to complete 200 m over the full 5 years of your agreement (or 400 m if you have a 10-year ELS/HLS agreement).

You can complete the work ahead of schedule but you must have completed at least as much as the annual commitment for each agreement year completed. Points earned will be based on the annual commitment, not the actual amount of work completed in any single year.

For example, where the annual commitment is 40 m
End of agreement year 1 2 3 4 5
Minimum total length restored 40 80 120 160 200
Maximum total length restored 200 200 200 200 200
Points earned 400 400 400 400 400

 

Hedges, or lengths of hedges, in this option can also be entered into the hedge management options (EB1, EB2, EB3, EB8, EB9 and EB10).

Management requirements

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • Obtain current, dated photographs of the hedge to be restored as evidence of its condition when you joined the scheme, retain these photographs and submit a copy with your application.
  • At the end of the agreement at least 90 per cent of the restored hedge must be continuous with no gap (other than gateways) more than 1 m wide. If sections, more than 1 m wide, of laid hedge die after restoration then these gaps should be planted with new hedge plants, following the gapping up prescriptions.
  • Following restoration, prevent damage by livestock and other animals such as rabbits.
  • Any fences must be sited at least 1.2 m from the centre of the hedge.
  • Retain all historic boundary features eg stone gate posts.
  • Retain any existing hedgerow trees where they are a characteristic feature of the local landscape. They must not be damaged by fencing wire or used as fence posts.
  • Only apply herbicide 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).

In addition, for hedge laying, you must comply with the following:

  • Before work starts, all old fencing must be removed and disposed of appropriately. Also, cut and pull out bramble and other scrambling plants where these will hinder laying the cut stems.
  • Lay when the hedge is dormant, between 1 November and 1 March, in the style customary to the local landscape. However, in exceptional circumstances, work may continue up to 1 April provided you conduct a survey to ensure that there are no nesting birds present.
  • Twiggy material may be placed over the cut stems to provide some protection to the re-growth from grazing animals. Wood may be stacked to provide valuable dead wood habitat for wildlife.
  • Cut material may be chipped and used as a mulch to control weeds.
  • Site any fires to minimise environmental damage. Material should either be burnt immediately or left until the end of the bird breeding season (ie September) as piles of brash are attractive nesting sites for birds. Bonfire sites must not be sited on low-intensity grassland, other wildlife-rich areas or areas of historic or archaeological interest.

In addition, for gapping-up you must comply with the following:

  • Thoroughly clear gaps of existing vegetation.
  • Plant dormant two-year-old bare rooted stock (45 cm–60 cm) between 1 November and 1 March, avoiding periods when the ground is frozen or waterlogged. Plant a minimum of six plants per metre in a double staggered row with at least 30 cm between rows.
  • Plant in line with the existing hedgerow. Plant species to match those in the existing hedge. Single species planting can be used eg to restore hawthorn enclosure hedges. Plants should be of British native origin.
  • Any newly planted hedge plants that die must be replaced in the following planting season.
  • You may control injurious weeds (ie creeping and spear thistles, curled and broad-leaved docks or common ragwort) or invasive alien species (eg Himalayan balsam, rhododendron or Japanese knotweed) by use of a mulch.
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