In 2012, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded a £48,000 grant to a partnership of local councils for a new project that will protect, conserve, and celebrate the importance of hedgerows to our natural environment. The funding will be used to bring together 10 councils to deliver conservation and heritage training activities for local communities to enable them to restore and manage these natural heritage assets.
Hedgerows are a priority habitat in Northern Ireland that can support over 170 species of trees, plants, animals, birds and invertebrates. The new Hedgerows Grows West project will focus activities on the areas of Omagh, Fermanagh, Strabane, Magherafelt and Cookstown District Councils; Coleraine, Limavady, Dungannon and South Tyrone and Ballymoney Borough Councils and Derry City Council.
The project will identify hedgerows that have lost their wildlife value and teach people how to restore and manage them. Conservation skills will be passed on to local community groups, land managers and children through a series of practical training sessions and workshops. At least 5 kilometres of hedgerows will be restored throughout the project areas. Hedge Packs and leaflets will be distributed to raise awareness of the project and encourage people to get involved in the activities.
Participants will also learn how to identify species rich hedgerows and how they can support a wide and varied range of biodiversity, such as specialist plants, nesting birds, feeding bats and butterflies throughout their life cycles. The importance of hedgerows to our culture, history and farming practices as well as their impact on helping to secure the future of our native species, will also be explored.
Funding for the project was awarded through HLF’s Your Heritage programme which provides grants of up to £50,000 for projects that explore, record and conserve all aspects of our local, regional or national heritage.