Hedgerows are an iconic element of the British countryside. But one that has been fast disappearing over the past 50 years or so with some 50 percent grubbed out with the demands for efficient, effective food production the primary driver or over-cutting, leading to the loss of structure and established growth for wildlife food.
To reflect the major contribution that they make to our environment and ecology the first week of June has been declared National Hedgerow Week by the Tree Council and we are encouraging Cookham people to take the time out to discover the wonders of our local hedgerows.
Many of our hedgerows, including local ones, date back centuries. Many came into being as a result of the enclosure of common land though some go back much further.
Their most obvious attraction is that they adorn our countryside, giving it a unique structure and offering an ever-changing picture as the seasons advance. But their importance goes way beyond that. They provide homes, shelter and food for much of our wildlife; they are a key part of the green networks that we now realise are so important to species’ well-being and survival, and they are home also to myriad plants which in turn provide the foundation for all life. They are also major carbon stores and play a big role in controlling soil erosion.
So let’s celebrate our hedgerows! WildCookham is doing this in June in several ways, including a talk by Megan Gimber, the Key Habitats Officer for the People's Trust for Endangered Species - details here. Also look out for information and ideas on our Facebook page and check our website (wildcookham.org.uk). There’s a hedgerow foraging event planned (yes, hedges can provide lots of goodies for us humans too!). But above all, just take the opportunity to enjoy our hedges – spend a little time exploring them and seeing what you can discover.
And we’re looking for help. Already we have surveyed all of the hedgerows alongside more than 30 of our local footpaths. We are now planning new planting to fill the gaps and get these hedges back to full strength or extending them to help our wildlife move further. We’d love to hear from anyone who can help us discover what we have and be a part of leaving a legacy for future generations. Contact us at email@example.com.
(June 2021 Cookham 'Parishioner')