If you have a story call our newsdesk on 01722 426511 or email us. To advertise call 01722 426500.
Traditional craft revived
INTEREST in the traditional craft of hedge laying has been revived after free courses were run by the New Forest Land Advice Service (NFLAS) in late February and early March.
A group of Commoners and land owners have been taught how to mark their boundaries using techniques dating back thousands of years to the Iron Age, ensuring hedgerows are retained as a valuable feature in the landscape.
Well-maintained hedges are functional and practical, acting as a stock-proof barrier on their own or in combination with fencing.
The hedges are also crucial habitats for native plants and wildlife such as nesting birds, dormice, hedgehogs and many insects and they are corridors for animals to move across fields and between woodland, while bats use them as “road maps” for navigation.
The NFLAS brought in professional hedge layer Andrew Birnie, thanks to funding from the Sustainable Development Fund through the New Forest National Park Authority.
At Hazel Copse Farm in Beaulieu 20 volunteers, including a new generation of Commoners, laid 70 metres of hedge in a day.
Robert Bridle, 17, a Commoner from the Minstead area, said: “I’ve taken the skills I learned on the course to lay hedges on my own holding.
It’s good for the land and wildlife and to maintain the character of the New Forest.”
Land Advice Service advisor Rhys Morgan said: “The response to the course has been very enthusiastic.
It’s lovely to think that a tradition going back thousands of years is still being used today.”
Hedges are laid over the winter when vegetation is at its thinnest and to avoid the bird breeding season from March 1 to August 31. Typically hedges should be laid every seven to ten years in order to ensure they stay thick and bushy.
Further hedge laying courses will be held again in the autumn.
A small charge is likely next time.
If you’re interested in joining the course, contact Rhys Morgan on 01590 646688 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also find out more at nflandadvice.org.uk.