Hedgerow planting at the Tithe Barn: Tree Warden news

BRA Tree Warden, Frances Fancourt reports

On Sunday 4th February the 1st Fetcham Scouts and the 1st Fetcham Cubs joined the Bookham Tree Wardens to plant a hedgerow at the Tithe Barn in Little Bookham.

A new native hedgerow was being planted to screen off a set of solar panels and to improve the biodiversity of the area. The mix of plants included hawthorn, beech, hazel and rose, all of which benefit wildlife and are suitable for the  horses in the fields alongside.

The owners of the Tithe Barn like to share their ancient barn allowing local residents to use it for exhibitions, functions and activities in exchange for a donation to charity. This includes schools, heritage open days, charity functions and meetings of various groups including the U3A tai chi group. During the Covid period it was used for additional schooling and tutoring space.

The hedgerow was made possible through a grant from The Tree Council’s Branching Out Fund. Tree Warden Frances Fancourt applied for the grant which encouraged youngsters to be involved with the planting. As the Fetcham Scouts and Cubs on occasions make use of the land around the Tithe Barn, they were the natural choice of youngsters to help. 31 scouts and cubs together with 12 adult helpers and leaders joined the tree wardens. The hedgerow was finished in a few hours – the many hands making light work of it. During the afternoon sweets were provided for the few flagging youngsters, and afterwards we enjoyed a cup of tea and biscuits before we headed home having had a good dose of fresh air and exercise, whilst helping to deal with climate change, improving biodiversity, air quality and drainage. The cubs and scouts will have been able to earn new badges too, for volunteering and ecological activities.

Approximately half of Britain’s hedgerows were lost in the 1900s due to agriculture and development, and Surrey has recently been shown to have the lowest number of hedgerows  in the country. In its Environmental Improvement Plan, the Government has pledged to support farmers to create or restore 30,000 miles of hedgerows. Hedgerows are just small trees growing closely together and they provide us and our local wildlife with all the benefits of trees. Indeed the tree wardens helped Surrey County Council plant hedgerows at Bocketts Farm in January too.

Many residents have what are called “species poor hedgerows” around their gardens. These are hedgerows typically of one variety of plant (e.g. laurel or leylandii), possibly not native, thus providing far less for biodiversity. If you would like to improve your own garden for biodiversity think about planting a hedge using a variety of different plants which flower, berry or have catkins, preferably including some native plants. These hedges also filter the strong winds, thus helping stop  wood panel fences from falling apart so quickly: a win-win hedgerow!


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