Sadly, only about 40% of Devon’s hedges are currently in a healthy state. The major problems are that many are becoming thin because management is limited to a close annual cut, while others have been neglected altogether for many years and have become lines of trees. Banks are often in a poor state of repair, especially where stone-faced. Excessive growth of nettles, goosegrass and bracken is another problem, a result of fertilizer drift from adjacent fields. The report Devon hedgerow survey 2007 -2009 gives more information, and is summarised in this presentation.
The major challenge we now face is how to make hedges pay for themselves on the modern farm – to generate savings or even an income, rather than being a financial burden. Managing them for woodfuel is one solution.
Guidance on management priorities and methods is given in Management Advice.