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HEDGEROW SURVEY THE appearance of any country like Suffolk where the natural climax is forest or scrub, is modified by man and his agricultural practices. In primitive and sparsely populated countries a patch of forest is felled by an individual or family, the trees and undergrowth b u r n e d and the ground cultivated until loss of fertility and invading weeds make it impossible to continue. A fresh area is then cleared and the old one allowed to revert to secondary forest, often very different in composition to that felled. As the p o p u lation increases Settlements become p e r m a n e n t and the inhabitants have to devise some other method of cultivation, one which will maintain the fertility of their land. In E u r o p e generally the method which evolved is known as the 'open field system', under which most of England was farmed until the end of the 18th C e n t u r y . T h o u g h the system varied f r o m manor to m a n o r the essence of the system was u n i f o r m co-operative arable farming. T h e arable land of t h e whole manor was divided into three ' G r e a t Fields' over which a rotation of winter corn, spring corn, fallow was followed, each man having to crop his own land, which was split u p into a n u m b e r of small parcels scattered among t h e three fields, on the same rotation as his neighbours. After harvest the livestock of all the village was t u r n e d out to graze on the stubbles, as they were t h r o u g h o u t the s u m m e r on the field being fallowed, so no man could at any time fence his own land either for agricultural purposes or in order to build a house on it. T h e r e were therefore no hedges or fences save the few round the houses and gardens in the village around the church, and no hedgerow trees: the b o u n d a r y between one m a n ' s plots and his neighbours' was a 'balk' of u n p l o u g h e d land. T h o u g h the rotation followed probably maintained the fertility of t h e land it obviously did not allow for any agricultural improvem e n t s : a man could not, e.g. grow t u r n i p s for winter keep if he c o u l d n ' t fence against his neighbours' stock. T h e r e was therefore a constant d e m a n d by 'improving' landlords and farmers to split the co-operatively cultivated land into individual f a r m s which culminated in a great spate of Enclosure Acts in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. W h e n enclosure took place each man was given a single block of land in place of his original holding scattered over the three open fields, and the right of c o m m o n grazing on the stubbles disappeared. Each man had to erect a b o u n d a r y fence and on holdings of any size would dig ditches to drain his land, planting hedges on the excavated soil to divide his land into a n u m b e r of fields. T h e r e was always a drift towards individual occupation of land and enclosures. T h i s was opposed by legislation in T u d o r times, encouraged later, and t h r o u g h o u t England most of the hedges and hedgerow trees are the result of Enclosure Acts passed between


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1750 and 1850. In east Suffolk and north Essex, however, enclosure seems to have taken place at a much earlier period and most of the existing field boundaries to date from the 17th Century or earlier. Work done by Dr. M . D . Hooper indicates that the number of kinds of shrub in a hedge depends in part on the management of the hedge, in part upon the type of soil in which the hedge is growing and to a very large extent upon the time during which the hedge has been in existence. In general a hedge 100 years old has only one or two species of shrub in a 30 yard Stretch, one 200 years old two or three species, until a hedge 1,000 years old has ten or twelve species. Hedges, moreover, support a large proportion of our lowland wild life: in particular, since hedges are very similar to that most rieh of woodland habitats the woodland edge, it is to hedges we owe the fact that our woodland birds can survive so well in agricultural land. T h e number and variety of birds' nests in a hedge depend in part upon the management of the hedge and in part upon the number of species of shrubs present in the hedge and the same is true of other creatures and herbaeeous plants. A survey of the hedges of a farm or of a parish can therefore be of great interest both to the naturalist and to the historian, while hedges in general are of the greatest importance so far as the preservation of our wild life is concerned. T h e N a t u r e Conservancy is accordingly undertaking an investigation of hedgerow ecology and as a beginning is trying to survey the distribution of different types of hedgerow, their management and the different kinds of shrub in them, throughout the country. T h e information required is set out on the 'tear off' pro-forma printed on page 121, and members are asked to help by selecting a hedge and recording on the pro-forma all the features present in a 30-yard length of that hedge. It is hoped that any interested person will examine as many hedges as possible, sending in a pro-forma for each one. At the present stage of the investigation even incomplete information is useful and no one should be deterred because they cannot, e.g. determine the age of the hedge or define the soil type. Further copies of the pro-forma may be obtained from and should be returned to:

Dr. Max Hooper, The Nature Conservancy, Monks Wood Experimental Station, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon.


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Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 15, Part 2

Much of the Contents of this note has been taken, with permission, from a circular prepared by Dr. Hooper, 'Hedgerow Projects for Schools', with additions appropriate to Suffolk. Some members, and in particular member schools, may wish to pursue further this relationship between the biology and history of their parish. For a simple exercise one could compare the number of shrubs in a 30 yards of a parish boundary hedge with the number of shrubs in an adjacent hedge. The parish boundary hedge one might expect to be about 1,000 years old and therefore have about 10 different kinds of shrub in it. The adjacent hedge may be no more than 200 years old and have only two species of shrub in it. From this Observation one can then go in either of two directions and ask why is one hedge rieh and the other poor in species or, alternatively, ask what consequences will this difference have on the animals living in the hedge? Simple hypotheses may be set up and tested in various ways. For example, for an older group of children one might suggest that because there are a greater number of kinds of plant in one hedge, there should be a greater number of kinds of insects and this could be tested by using jam jars as pitfall traps for beetles or by counting the number of butterflies along the hedge. Or one might suggest that because a hedge has been in existence a long time there has been a greater chance for seeds of other shrubs to be brought in by wind or by birds. Most shrubs have fleshy fruits which are eaten by birds so one could perhaps go on to examine the soil under, say, starling roosts for seeds. Or one could argue that if a hedge 1,000 years old has 10 kinds of shrub and one which is 200 years old has two kinds, then one 500 years old should have five, and then search for hedges with five kinds of shrub and try to find out how old they are. Hedge A has more birds than Hedge B. Why? Is Hedge A richer in shrubs; if it is, is it older or is it not so well managed? If it is older, when was it planted, is it part of a Tudor enclosure for sheep which was later sub-divided? When and why was it subdivided? Was it the price of corn in the Napoleonic Wars? Why should that area be used for sheep? Is it a lighter, poorer soil only fit for grass or was it so far from the village as to make ploughing with oxen and horses time-consuming because of the long trek morning and night to the area and back? The most interesting project would be to make a fĂźll survey of all the hedges of a single farm or of a parish, and in particular of those for which early maps are available. Before starting work in the field the history of each hedge in the area chosen should be found from as long a series of maps, covering as long a period of time as is possible. Much is available at the two County Record Offices; at the County Hall, Ipswich, for East Suffolk: Shire Hall,


118

Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 15, Part 2

Much of the Contents of this note has been taken, with permission, from a circular prepared by Dr. Hooper, 'Hedgerow Projects for Schools', with additions appropriate to Suffolk. Some members, and in particular member schools, may wish to pursue further this relationship between the biology and history of their parish. For a simple exercise one could compare the number of shrubs in a 30 yards of a parish boundary hedge with the number of shrubs in an adjacent hedge. The parish boundary hedge one might expect to be about 1,000 years old and therefore have about 10 different kinds of shrub in it. The adjacent hedge may be no more than 200 years old and have only two species of shrub in it. From this Observation one can then go in either of two directions and ask why is one hedge rieh and the other poor in species or, alternatively, ask what consequences will this difference have on the animals living in the hedge? Simple hypotheses may be set up and tested in various ways. For example, for an older group of children one might suggest that because there are a greater number of kinds of plant in one hedge, there should be a greater number of kinds of insects and this could be tested by using jam jars as pitfall traps for beetles or by counting the number of butterflies along the hedge. Or one might suggest that because a hedge has been in existence a long time there has been a greater chance for seeds of other shrubs to be brought in by wind or by birds. Most shrubs have fleshy fruits which are eaten by birds so one could perhaps go on to examine the soil under, say, starling roosts for seeds. Or one could argue that if a hedge 1,000 years old has 10 kinds of shrub and one which is 200 years old has two kinds, then one 500 years old should have five, and then search for hedges with five kinds of shrub and try to find out how old they are. Hedge A has more birds than Hedge B. Why? Is Hedge A richer in shrubs; if it is, is it older or is it not so well managed? If it is older, when was it planted, is it part of a Tudor enclosure for sheep which was later sub-divided? When and why was it subdivided? Was it the price of corn in the Napoleonic Wars? Why should that area be used for sheep? Is it a lighter, poorer soil only fit for grass or was it so far from the village as to make ploughing with oxen and horses time-consuming because of the long trek morning and night to the area and back? The most interesting project would be to make a fĂźll survey of all the hedges of a single farm or of a parish, and in particular of those for which early maps are available. Before starting work in the field the history of each hedge in the area chosen should be found from as long a series of maps, covering as long a period of time as is possible. Much is available at the two County Record Offices; at the County Hall, Ipswich, for East Suffolk: Shire Hall,


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area, farm, estate or parish, would be valuable if only as a foundation on which some future Student could build. In these days when more and more hedgerows are being removed the value of such records is obvious, indeed all members are urged to record the botanical composition of any hedgerows in their parishes which are known to be doomed to the bulldozer. If hedgerow records more complete than those on the pro-forma are sent to the Hon. Secretary: M R S . E . C. GREEN, c/o T H E MUSEUM, H I G H STREET, IPSWICH, arrangements will be made for their storage and cataloguing, so that their existence and extent may be known to students.

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