Conservation inspiration: hedge creation

Lakeland park’s huge hedge project shows the benefits of habitat creation

Michael Holgate (above) has planted eight miles of wildlife-friendly hedging on his Cumbria park, Silverdale

THE IMPORTANCE of focusing on habitat creation is shown by the success of last year’s David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme hedge-habitat initiative in which parks were encouraged to manage their hedges for wildlife and to plant new native hedgerows.

The impact of planting hedges can be seen at Holgates Silverdale near Morecambe Bay. This park received a Special Distinction award for planting eight miles of new hedgerows. The work took nine months to complete, and brought in a raft of species including hawthorn, hazel, ash and oak, interwoven with climbers such as traveller’s-joy and honeysuckle.

Michael Holgate, the family-owned group’s managing director, says that everyone was immensely proud of the award – and that the news soon had a rippling effect: “We found ourselves in the publicity spotlight both in the regional press and in a number of national publications, which was very pleasing,” Michael explains. “Our local newspaper described Holgate’s staff as “hedgerow heroes” in the headline, which raised a few smiles but nevertheless brought them the credit they deserved!”

Media coverage of his parks’ eight miles of hedgerow described how dormice, hedgehogs, red squirrels, butterflies and birds will all benefit from the project.

“It’s surprising just how many regular customers also picked up on the fact that we had won an award, with many offered their congratulations to our team members. I think the David Bellamy Conservation Award will always resonate well with people who visit parks because they enjoy getting closer to nature and the countryside. For that reason, we provide a lot of information about the type of initiatives we take, such as our honey bee friendly project and efforts to boost our red squirrel population. Quite often we are asked by guests about how they can play their part, and we’re always pleased to provide advice on, for example, planting pollen-rich flowers in their gardens.

In 2017, almost 300 David Bellamy Award parks provided information about their hedges. Between them they had an amazing 362 miles of wildlife-friendly hedging – further than the distance between London and Edinburgh as the crow flies.

Seeking inspiration for new ways in which your park can help protect the natural world? In these articles, Rufus Bellamy, head of the David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme, highlights some of the latest initiatives being taken. For more ideas, visit http://stayuknews.co.uk/conservation/