Hedgerow Hopes

Southeast Antrim is one of four regions involved in the Heritage Lottery funded Hedgerow Hopes project, which started in 2012 and will continue until 2015. Hedgerows are an important habitat for a wide range of wildlife including birds, bats, field mice, badgers and hedgehogs. In many agricultural landscapes the margins of hedges are also the only places where wildflowers can thrive. Hedges act as green corridors, connecting fragmented wildlife sites and are an essential part of our landscape, particularly when they include tall, spaced forest trees like oak, ash or Scots pine.

The Hedgerow Hopes project aims to highlight the importance of our native hedges and to encourage landowners to manage hedges in ways that will benefit wildlife and ensure that they remain an important feature of our countryside for generations to come. Events organised to date include hedgerow tree planting, mini-beast hunts, demonstrations of hedge laying and foraging for food for free in hedgerows. The forage events have proved particularly popular as visitors can not only help gather edible berries and fruit, but can cook them and taste hedgerow jam, elderflower cordial and other delights.

Hedgerow Hopes has attracted farmers keen to maintain and enhance their field hedges and also urban dwellers who are interested to improve their garden hedges. There is increasing interest in allotments and growing produce in the garden, and at the hedgerow events many people have asked about planting fruit trees like apple, crab apple and plum in their hedges, to attract wildlife and to pick and use in jam.