Habitat management news: hedges and berries


A study was undertaken by the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology in Cambridgeshire, southeast England to assess the value of late winter cutting of hawthorn Crataegus monogyna hedges in maximising the period when berries are available to wildlife.

In autumn 1997, berry-bearing branches of hawthorn Crataegus monogyna were marked in a hawthorn hedge (planted in 1962) at Monks Wood, Cambridgeshire. From October 1997 through to January 1998, the number of berries on these branches was regularly recorded.

Berry counts revealed that the peak period of berry loss was from mid-October to late November. By December the berry count was less than 6% of the count at the start of the monitoring period. By the beginning of January there were less than 1% of berries remaining.

Conclusions: The results of this simple study show that at this site in that particular winter, delaying the cutting of the hedgerow until mid-January would have allowed the vast majority (99%+) of berries to be available to wildlife. Berry production and rate of consumption/berry drop may vary from year to year, but by delaying hedgerow management (e.g. mechanical trimming) until January is probably a good rule of thumb to follow and will probably benefit berry-eating wildlife in most winters.

Note: If using or referring to this published study, please read and quote the original article.

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