The New Forest National Park Authority, its volunteers and the New Forest Trust worked together to plant a hedgerow in honour of the Queen’s Jubilee.
The new hedgerow is on land adjacent to Rockford Common in the north west of the New Forest , which is part of The New Forest Site of Special Scientific Interest. (Special Protection Area and Special Area of Conservation if you want to lay it on!)
The Rockford Farm site, managed by the New Forest Trust, qualified for a Woodland Trust scheme as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy – a nationwide project set to plant one million trees and hedgerows across the country as a living legacy of the late Queen Elizabeth II.
National Park volunteers spent a day planting hawthorn, hazel, rowan, birch and oak along the hedge line with stakes and protectors to help them grow and protect them from rabbits.
The ground was then covered in chippings to stop aggressive weeds competing with the new planting
Paul Walton, the National Park Authority’s Head of Environment and Rural Economy, said: ‘Hedges are a vital part of the countryside’s ecosystem, offering berries and nuts for wildlife whilst also providing a protective corridor for animals to move between habitats.
‘A healthy hedgerow will be rich in species, including native shrubs and can provide bird nesting sites as well as a home for some of our rarer animals including hedgehogs and newts.’
Trees and hedges are best planted in the winter months, with the final plants and seeds of the Queen’s Green Canopy being sown by March.
Elsewhere on the site the Trust has already planted a new hedge on the northern boundary linking an existing hedge with adjacent woodland. The roadside hedge had declined in recent years. Much of it was elm which has declined throughout England because of Dutch Elm disease. Where it survives the Trust have started layering the plants in an effort to keep this species alive. Trustee of the New Forest Trust Diana Westerhoff said: ‘Once grown, the new hedgerow will fill a gap previously overtaken by bracken along the boundary of the site and will help our wildlife for generations to come.
‘This project demonstrates a perfect example of collaborative partnership work across the New Forest. We would like to thank the volunteers for their hard work, alongside The Woodland Trust which provided the plants as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy project and The Tree Management Company for contributing the chippings.’
For volunteering opportunities, visit the New Forest Volunteer Fair at Brockenhurst Village Hall on Sunday 29 January. See www.newforestnpa.gov.uk for details.