BBC - NATURAL WORLD. A Farm for the Future Wildlife film maker Rebecca Hosking investigates how to transform her family's farm in Devon into a low energy farm for the future, and discovers that nature holds the key.
With her father close to retirement, Rebecca returns to her family's wildlife-friendly farm in Devon, to become the next generation to farm the land. But last year's high fuel prices were a wake-up call for Rebecca. Realising that all food production in the UK is completely dependent on abundant cheap fossil fuel, particularly oil, she sets out to discover just how secure this oil supply is.
Alarmed by the answers, she explores ways of farming without using fossil fuel. With the help of pioneering farmers and growers, Rebecca learns that it is actually nature that holds the key to farming in a low-energy future.
The Devon Hedge
The Devon hedge consists of an earth bank faced with stone or turf which usually has bushy shrubs on the top. They are characteristically very old, rich in wildlife and visually very attractive.
Devon has more hedges remaining than any other county in the UK, reflecting its large size, its pastoral landscape and the favourable management and agricultural systems adopted by local farmers. It is estimated that there are 53,000 km (33,000 miles) of hedge still in the county, and that we have about 20% of all the species-rich hedges left in the UK.
Devon's hedgebanks are an intimate element of the farmed landscape and over large areas of the county are the main refuge for a wide range of plants and animals - the "biodiversity". The successful conservation of hedges is critical to that of Devon's characteristic landscapes and much of the county's wildlife.
Generations of farmers have been responsible for creating and managing these hedges as stock-proof barriers and shelter for livestock and crops. The hedges may mark changes in soil type and most are still valued by farmers as field boundaries and for shelter despite the introduction of stock fencing. Our hedges are also tremendously important historically. They preserve for us human decisions about the use of the landscape which often go back hundreds or even thousands of years. On the fringes of Dartmoor, some hedges continue the boundaries ('reaves') of Bronze Age field systems, some 3,500 years old. Most of our hedges are of, at least, medieval antiquity, with maybe a quarter of them being more than 800 years old.
Devon Hedge Group - Devon Hedges website
The Devon Hedge Group is a forum of organisations and individuals interested in working together to promote the appreciation and conservation of hedges found across the county. Members of the Group represent the full range of interests associated with hedges in Devon, including agriculture, the conservation of wildlife and landscape, and historical and cultural values.
Formed in 1994, it has been steadily growing in strength and influence. It has succeeded in generating a great deal of media attention, and has already done much to raise the profile of hedges in the county.
RSPB Farm Hedges website
Are you interested in the best way to manage farmland hedgerows for wildlife? These pages aim to give a balanced view of the practicalities of looking after farm hedgerows, says a little about their history, and gives details about where to go for further advice and information.
Value of hedgerows for wildlife website History of hedgerows website Hedgerow loss/gain: the position website Farmers and hedgerow management website When and how to trim website Advice & grant aid for hedge management and planting website
RSPB. Giving Nature A Home
HEDGELINK Hedgelink - All About Hedges website The first place to look for information on the UK's native hedges, hedgerow conservation and hedge management.
Importance of hedgerows website Hedgerows provide vital resources for mammals, birds, and insect species. As well as being an important habitat in their own right, they act as wildlife corridors allowing dispersal between isolated habitats.
Management Advice website Hedge trees are traditionally part of the UK landscape and havens for wildlife. Yet, of an estimated 1.8 million hedge trees, nearly a third are over a century old and may disappear from the landscape at any time over the next 25 years. Without an immediate effort to establish new hedge trees, there will be profound changes to the UK landscape and its biodiversity. Since the late 18th century the abundance of hedge trees has dramatically declined.
The Art of Devon Hedge Laying
How to repair a Devon stone-faced hedge. published on May 20, 2015.
A short film explaining how to repair a Devon stone-faced hedge. Presented by Biodiversity Officer Tom Hynes in North Devon's Biosphere Reserve.