Farming in Protected Landscapes Case Study:

Hedge restoration at Bevills Farm

In 2023, £5,000 from the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme was awarded to Bevills Farm Partnership for hedge restoration and coppicing over 938 metres of hedges to re-invigorate their growth from the base. This coppice on Elizabeth’s wood is cut and awaiting sorting and stacking.

Coppicing and laying are traditional hedge management techniques. Where

these practices have lapsed, hedges can suffer from poor health and lack of vigour caused by frequent cutting at the same height and/or they can become outgrown into lines of trees.

Healthy, vigorously growing hedges have a greater leaf area and biomass so

the carbon sequestration potential is greater. Healthy hedgerows also have

greater ability to ‘slow the flow’ of water reducing the risk of flooding and

soil erosion.

There are advantages for wildlife too, structural diversity will attract different species of birds at different stages of growth, for example yellowhammer and linnet prefer short, dense hedges of under 2m height (coppice stage 1-5years) whilst song thrush and turtle dove show a preference for hedges of at least 3-4m high.

What work was done?

A range of hedges of varying age were identified for restoration through a programme of coppicing. This is part of a phased long term approach to management of the 24,300m of hedge on the farm. Where spiral guards were still present on hedges planted in the past 20 years or so they were removed and disposed of responsibly as part of the coppicing programme.

What happens next?

From year 2 or 3, the coppice re-growth will be lightly trimmed to encourage dense, bushy growth. Thereafter there will be a mix of either trimming once every three years and/or allowing some hedges to grow on freely until their next coppice cycle.

Bevills Farm is part of the Stour Valley Farmer Cluster and has hosted training events and there will be future opportunities to host farm walks to discuss hedge management and the relationship to carbon storage and sequestration.

A proportion of the brash was piled back along the coppice stools to protect from hare and deer browsing, this also provides an area of low, dense cover favoured for nesting for some farmland bird species. This technique has previously been undertaken on the farm and proved to be extremely effective.

Re-growth from the stools is usually above the brash in the first year of growth. Over time the brash decays back into the soil helping to store carbon and improve organic matter.