What is it?

Hedgerows are familiar throughout most of the UK, especially in the lowlands. They occur mostly as boundaries between fields, or separating fields from roads, gardens and other habitats. They consist mainly of native woody tree and shrub species. The older they are the more species they tend to support.

The most common native woody species in hedgerows is hawthorn, but blackthorn, gorse, elder, ash, elm, holly and oak also frequently occur. Other plants common in hedgerows include climbers like bramble, rose and honeysuckle. Hedgerows also have a grassy verge.

What’s special about it?

Hedgerows are very important in providing food and shelter for wildlife in lowland farmland areas which may otherwise have limited biodiversity value. They also act as corridors linking areas of semi-natural habitat.

Hedgerows are widespread in England and Wales and the south of Scotland. Walls and fences are more common field boundaries further north.

How do we benefit?

This habitat provides homes for species that pollinate flowers and crops. The value of pollinators to UK agriculture is conservatively estimated at £440m per annum. They can also contribute to some of the UK’s most treasured landscapes.

How could development affect it?

• Hedgerows are likely to be grubbed up where development or road widening is to take place, or for agricultural intensification. Wherever possible they should be retained and maintained within developments.
• Hedges need regular management, by coppicing, laying or trimming, to maintain a thick, dense structure with safe roosting and nesting spaces - too much trimming makes the hedge short and gappy; too little lets it grow into a line of trees. Where their verges run along roadsides these are typically mown at least once each year.

Find out more>>

UKBAP list of priority habitats

Scottish Natural Heritage