Why protect hedgerows?
Despite the predominance of dry stone field boundaries in the National Park, hedgerows are a distinctive landscape feature in some areas, such Bishopdale, Coverdale, and Westhouse near Ingleton.
They are often of historic interest, marking boundaries to historic parishes or townships. Some of the oldest hedgerows contain a diverse range of tree and plant species, contributing to the local biodiversity. They are also important wildlife corridors, allowing sheltered and protected movement between pockets of isolated woodland or other habitat. It is also known that bats use linear features such as hedgerows as a navigation tool and flight path. Hedgerows have further importance in preventing soil erosion and water run-off, and helping to shelter and control livestock.
The Government has recognised the threat to the remaining hedgerows. In the past hedgerows have been removed to allow for agricultural change and have become derelict through lack of management. Under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997, it is against the law to remove countryside hedges without first getting the permission of the local authority (the National Park Authority).
Please contact the Trees and Woodlands Team well in advance of any proposed hedge removal to confirm whether the works intended are exempt or fall within the remit of the Regulations. The Regulations do not apply to any hedgerow within the curtilage of, or marking a boundary of a dwelling house. However, both domestic and rural hedges provide important habitats, therefore any works should be planned so as to avoid disturbing nesting birds. We advise any works should be avoided between 1 March and 31 July, but please do not hesitate to contact the Trees and Woodlands Team for clarification or advice.