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Thursday 19 October 2017
19 October 2017 - NEWS UPDATE
Green Living

Lightsource backs new guide to support conservation of Devon’s hedges

The UK’s leading solar energy generator is giving its support to a new booklet aimed at boosting the health of the nation’s hedgerows.

Lightsource Renewable Energy has sponsored the launch of a guide from the Devon Hedge Group which gives advice to farmers and landowners on the best ways to manage hedges to produce woodfuel, boosting their health and longevity in the process.

Hedgerows provide a natural wildlife “corridor” by providing food and homes to many species of birds, insects and small mammals. However, the recent decline in the health of our nation’s hedgerows has become a real threat to biodiversity levels. A lack of both funding and knowledge on effective management techniques are the main reasons for the suffering of many hedges.

The new booklet produced by the Devon Hedge Group as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations is aimed at giving farmers and landowners the right tools to get the most from their hedgerows. Hedges go through a cycle of growth and it is vital that they are cut and maintained in the right way to ensure a healthy future. Techniques such as hedge laying and coppicing are essential for the regeneration of hedgerows, but require both the knowledge and skill to implement. When done correctly, hedgerows can be a sustainable source of wood fuel and provide a thriving home for local wildlife and biodiversity.

Rob Wolton, of the Devon Hedge Group, said: “The idea for this guide came from a visit I made with Hedgelink in 2010 to Normandy. It was on that visit that we saw that the production of woodfuel could be used for the benefit of the whole community. Often farmers and landowners don’t have the time or the funds to manage their hedges effectively and we wanted to be able to share our knowledge to show the many benefits that it can bring, so we can start to restore the health of our hedges.

“Hedges around the country are not as healthy as they should be and cuts to public funding for the management of hedgerows has not helped. By effectively managing hedges they can be turned into a source of direct income through the production of woodfuel, which can have a number of benefits for farmers, landowners and the wider community. Woodfuel enables rural communities to heat their homes and farm buildings at around half the price of heating oils or gases. With many rural communities threatened with fuel poverty, the production of wood fuel can create a viable locally-sourced solution - creating rural employment opportunities at the same time.”

Conor McGuigan, Business Development Director for Lightsource: “Solar farms can help boost natural wildlife and improve biodiversity, so we were keen to lend our support to this project. During our planning process we work closely with ecologists to implement biodiversity management plans, so we were very interested to learn about the further benefits that a well-managed hedgerow could bring to both wildlife and the local community.”

Production of the guide has also been supported by the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Blackdown Hills AONB and Devon County Council.

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